Updated: Jun 8
Swimming is an excellent way for the aging population to get their daily recommended 30 minutes of exercise. The water supports the body and provides relief to the joints giving the swimmer a gentler form of exercise. Because swimming is easier on the joints the senior has a more enjoyable way to exercise while getting a full-body workout with a lower risk of injury.
However, some seniors may need extra supervision when swimming especially those who are experiencing cognitive decline or dementia. As we age, our muscles will atrophy and waste away if they are not properly exercised causing muscle weakness. This weakness will increase the risk of falls and may increase the risk of drowning.
Here are some pool safety tips for seniors:
Always swim in the presence of others. Never swim alone and always have a buddy. Make sure your buddy is strong enough to help you in case you have an emergency while in the water. You may want to consider hiring a caregiver who is experienced in water safety.
Wear life jackets and have lifesaving equipment ready such as a shepherd's hook or safety ring.
Enter the water feet first and use the shallow end or stairs to slowly walk into the pool. Always use the handrails and consider installing a lift chair to get in and out of the water.
Stay in the shallow end and do not go farther than you can touch with your feet flat on the bottom of the pool. Stay along the edge of the pool rather than the middle to easily be reached if you have trouble getting out of the pool.
Stay away from pool drains and tie up any long hair that could get tangled in a jet.
Avoid distractions and remove trip hazards including keeping pets indoors. Also, avoid floats that will flip easily. Keep your phone near to call 911 if an emergency occurs.
If you have a pool at home, keep the doors that open out to the pool locked and alarm-protected, especially overnight. Use pool barriers that surround the pool to prevent unwanted falls into the pool. You also may consider installing surveillance cameras.
Ensure pool chemicals are locked up and your pool is in good working condition including water quality to prevent slime build-up on the bottom to ward off slips and falls.
Maintain tepid water temperatures and use caution when using hot tubs. Aged skin is more susceptible to extreme temperatures and burns.
Regulate heart rate, especially for seniors who are known to have high blood pressure issues.
Donna Kay Dinkins is a certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach and owner of Inspire Me To Be Healthy LLC. She enjoys helping aging women who struggle with weight gain and want to regain their stamina.
After ending her career as a Chemist, Donna Kay transformed herself into Health and Wellness to overcome the toxic effects of her work environment. Currently, Donna Kay assists families transitioning loved ones out of the family home as a Senior Real Estate Specialist® utilizing her knowledge and experience in healthcare.
Donna Kay has spoken on topics such as productivity, wellness transformation, and senior fitness. In her spare time, Donna Kay enjoys teaching others about health and wellness specializing in the senior population. You will see Donna Kay in the community teaching various classes such as Active Living Every Day and Healthy Eating Every Day through the Senior Connection Center serving our aging population.