For seniors who love outdoor activities, being in the water can be one of the most enjoyable ways to stay active.
But whether you’re swimming in a pool, lake or ocean, it’s important to take the proper precautions to stay safe.
All older adults should be vigilant to reduce any risk of injury no matter where they are. And that includes around the pool, by the lake or pond, on boats, etc.
But these locations are often used during vacation and recreational activities, so safety can sometimes be overlooked.
The first step in being safe around any body of water is to know your capabilities. If you are not a strong swimmer, stay in shallow water where you can touch the bottom.
If you are comfortable swimming in deeper water, make sure someone else is with you, even if they are not swimming. It’s always better to have someone nearby in case of an emergency.
Wearing the proper clothing is also important. You don’t want to wear anything that is too loose or billowy. Choose clothing that is fitted and won’t get in your way if you need to move quickly. Wearing brightly colored clothing can also help you be seen more easily.
Of course, if you’re by a lake or on a boat, wearing a life jacket is always the best option. If you are not comfortable wearing one, at least have one nearby that you can grab in an emergency.
And make sure to check the life jackets regularly to make sure they are in good condition and will work properly if you need them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to pool safety for seniors.
- Make sure the pool is fenced in and has a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- Consider installing an alarm on the gate or on the door leading to the pool area.
- If the pool grab bars are slippery add a grip cover.
- Reduce slippery surfaces on the pool deck and steps.
- Keep rescue equipment near the pool.
- Make sure the pool area is well lit.
- If they can’t swim, provide them with flotation devices.
- Encourage seniors to wear life jackets when boating.
- Make sure seniors are aware of the dangers of diving into shallow water.
Following these simple safety tips can help make your time on the water more enjoyable and safe. And remember, if you’re ever in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry!
Let’s go over each of these tips in a bit more detail.
Fenced In Pool
Fencing in a pool area is one of the best ways to keep seniors and other family members safe. Especially if your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Check out the options for pool fencing here.
If you have an elderly loved one who likes to spend time in the water, a pool alarm is a must-have safety device. This type of alarm will sound whenever someone enters the pool area, alerting you to their presence. It’s a great way to keep tabs on your loved one and make sure they’re safe while enjoying the water.
Check out the options for pool alarms here.
Safe Grab Bars
It’s easy for your hand to slip on the pool bars to enter or exit the pool. A safe grab bar with some texture can give you something to hold onto so you can keep your balance.
Just add a rail grip cover to make it safer.
Non-slip Pool Deck
Most slips and falls occur on wet surfaces – especially around pools. Many seniors find that they are more unsteady on their feet when they get older, and slippery surfaces can be very dangerous.
Non-slip pool decking is a great way to make sure that your loved ones are safe when they are using the pool. There are a variety of different types of non-slip decking available, and you can find one that fits your needs and budget.
The area around pools and boats can be filled with hard surfaces. Older people are generally more susceptible to falls. So, it makes sense to wear water shoes that provide good traction and can help prevent slips and falls.
Check out these types of shoes here.
Pool Rescue Equipment
There are a few things that every senior should have on hand when they are swimming, including a pool rescue equipment. These safety devices could include a life preserver, ring buoys, or other type of flotation device.
It is also a good idea to have a long pole or stick that can be used to reach someone who is in deep water and may need help getting to safety.
Check out the right equipment here.
The older we get, the more light we need. At night, we become more vulnerable to slips and falls. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make your pool safer for seniors.
Install more pool lights: Most pools have some form of lighting, but it may not be adequate. You might want to consider installing brighter lights or motion-sensor lights around the perimeter of the pool.
These will help your elderly loved one see where they are walking and avoid any hazards.
Check out your lighting options here.
Adult Flotation Devices For Pools
There are some wonderful devices that should be available for everyone entering a pool to be as safe as possible. One of these are flotation devices.
Check out some of the products here.
Life Jackets For Boating
Whenever you get onto a boat you should wear a life jacket (aka life vest). No matter how safe you think you may be. It’s a simple thing that could literally save your life.
We recommend you keep it on until your feet are on dry land.
Check out some life jackets here.
Remind Your Parents To Avoid Diving In The Shallow End
Honestly, the best way to avoid an accident is by not diving in the first place. But, let’s face it – some older adults like to act like crazy teenagers!
A pool fence and gate can help to keep them safe when there’s no one else home.
Other than that, it’s simply a matter of reminding them (if they are cognitively intact) and of course, monitoring their activities.
Problems That Make Seniors Unsafe Around Water
There are many reasons why an older adult would need to be extra careful around pools and other bodies of water.
- The senior person has dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- They have mobility issues (they stumble, shuffle, etc.).
- They have balance problems that can make it easier for them to fall.
- Shoulder or arm impairment that prevents them from swimming.
- Higher chance of skin cancer (so sun protection is extremely important).
- Dry skin issues can be exacerbated by the chlorine in your pool.
- Other physical limitations that may prevent them from saving themselves if they fell in to a body of water.
Water temperature is an important consideration when selecting safety gear for seniors. In cooler temperatures, a wetsuit or drysuit can help protect against hypothermia.
In warmer temperatures, a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) can help keep seniors safe in the event of a fall into the water.
For seniors, safety gear can simply provide an extra layer of safety.
Although many people usually equate these products as necessary items for children and pets, they can also be extremely helpful for older adults as well.
Safety Gear For Seniors Around Pools
In addition to a wearable pool alarm, you should also have other safety equipment in your pool area. This may include…
- a safety cover for your pool.
- a fence around the perimeter of your pool.
- a ladder to help you get in and out of the pool.
- a phone near the pool so you can call for help if needed.
By having these safety measures in place, you can help prevent accidents and injuries in your pool area.
I would also recommend to place an Alexa device in your outdoor area by your pool. With the help of voice commands, you can easily control your music, lights and other devices without having to leave your pool area.
This can be a great way to relax and enjoy your time in the pool.
Do I Need A Pool Alarm?
If you are caring for a senior parent at a home with a pool, you should have a pool alarm. It’s not just for their safety – it’s for your peace of mind as well.
Especially if your elderly loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Many home insurance policies require some type of pool alarm, and many city ordinances make them mandatory.
But even if you don’t live in a high-risk area or your insurer doesn’t have a strict requirement, a pool alarm is a smart idea.
Why? Because falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors, and pools present a significant fall hazard.
A pool alarm can help you avoid the heartache and expense of a serious accident.
“You’ll need to work with your home insurance company to make sure you’re meeting coverage guidelines. Whether required by law or insurance, the following precautions should be taken by all homeowners before and after building a pool:
- Installing proper fencing and safety perimeters
- Purchasing safety alarms for your home and pool
- Keeping your pool chemically balanced
- Having an automatic and lockable cover
- Understanding your guests’ swimming abilities before allowing them in your pool
- Having an emergency rescue plan
- Keeping safety equipment easily accessible” – moneygeek.com
I recommend that you check with your local city / county for any laws they may have concerning pool accidents and liability. You may also want to check with your property insurance agent as well.
What Is A Pool Alarm?
A pool alarm is a device that sounds an alert when someone enters the water. There are two different types of pool alarms on the market:
- Surface wave devices.
- Submerged pool alarms are more expensive, but they’re also more reliable. That’s because they’re less likely to be triggered by animals or other objects that happen to fall into the pool.
Surface Wave Devices
Surface wave pool alarms, on the other hand, are cheaper but they’re not as reliable. That’s because they can be triggered by things like leaves or branches falling into the pool.
However, they’re still a good option for households with budget concerns.
Submerged Pool Alarms
Submerged pool alarms are the most reliable type of pool alarm. They’re placed at the bottom of the pool, so they can’t be triggered by anything other than a person or animal entering the water.
This makes them ideal for households with seniors and / or young children and / or animals.
No matter which type of pool alarm you choose, make sure to test it regularly to ensure that it’s working properly. You don’t want to be caught off guard by a faulty alarm!
How Much Does A Pool Alarm Cost?
The cost of a pool alarm will depend on the brand, type, and features that you choose. Some pool alarms can be as low as $30, while others may cost over $100.
When choosing a pool alarm, it is important to consider how much protection you need and what features are most important to you.
Gear For Water Exercises
I have a great friend who loves her pool exercises because it’s a way to get a cardio workout and build muscle strength without causing pain to her arthritic joints.
There are some wonderful gadgets like water dumbbells that anyone can use in the pool to help with water resistance and support.
Here’s a list with links to some wonderful water exercise gear.
If you or your loved one enjoys a water exercise program, here are some great ideas for pool exercises that are low-impact and easy on the joints:
Water walking: This is a simple exercise that can be done by anyone. Just walk back and forth in the shallow end of the pool. This is a great way to get the heart rate up and improve balance and coordination.
Water jogging: This is a great cardio workout that is low-impact on the joints. Start by walking in the pool, then increase your speed to a light jog.
Aquatic aerobics: There are many different types of aquatic aerobics classes available. These classes are usually taught by a certified instructor and can include a variety of different exercises, such as stretching, toning, and cardio.
Calf raises: This exercise is great for toning the calves. Start by standing in the shallow end of the pool with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly raise up onto your toes, then lower back down. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
Flutter kicks: This exercise works the abs, hips, and thighs. Start by floating on your back in the pool with your arms at your sides. Kick your legs up and down in a flutter motion.
Arm curls: These can be done with dumbbells or resistance bands. Stand in the water up to your waist, then curl your arms up and down.
Tricep dips: For this exercise, you will need a pool noodle or a towel. Place the noodle or towel behind your back and hold on to it with both hands. Then
Swimming: Swimming is a great workout for the whole body. It is also a good way to cool down after doing other exercises in the pool.
Check out some products to help with pool exercises here.
Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States and a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity. Just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, bicycling, or running, can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses.Centers For Disease Control & Prevention
Bottom line is that water aerobics is an excellent exercise for most any elderly person. Ideal for cardiac health, building lower and upper body strength, improving mental health and more.
Water Safety Tips For Seniors
In addition to wearing a wearable pool alarm and having other safety equipment near the pool, there are some other important tips to keep in mind when swimming.
- Always swim with a partner. This way, if something happens, there is someone there to help.
- Avoid swimming alone. If you must swim alone, make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
- Never swim while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This can impair your judgment and increase the risk of accidents.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you see something that looks unsafe, don’t go near it.
- Follow the rules of the pool. This will help keep everyone safe.
Safety Gear For Seniors Around Lakes And The Beach
Most seniors enjoy spending time outdoors, especially during the warmer months. However, spending time near water can pose some risks, even for the most experienced swimmers.
That’s why it’s important for seniors to take some precautions before heading out to the lake.
Wear a life jacket: Even if you’re a strong swimmer, it’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket when you’re around water. Life jackets can help keep you afloat if you get tired or fall into the water.
Wear sunscreen: Seniors are more susceptible to sunburns, so it’s important to put on sunscreen before heading outdoors. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every few hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating.
Bring a friend: It’s always safer to enjoy the water with someone else. If you have a friend or family member who can join you, take them up on their offer!
Follow the rules: Make sure to follow all posted rules and signs when you’re near the water. Obey lifeguards’ instructions and swim only in designated areas.
Check the weather: Before heading to the lake, check the forecast to see if thunderstorms are expected. If so, it’s best to stay on shore.
Proper footwear: Seniors are more likely to suffer from balance issues, so it’s important to wear shoes that will help you keep your footing. Flip-flops and other open-toed shoes are a no-no; instead, opt for closed-toed shoes with a good grip.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if it’s hot out. Avoid drinking alcohol, as it can dehydrate you and affect your balance.
Wear a good sun hat: Protect your skin and face from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
Don’t forget the sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply it every two hours (or more often if you’re swimming or sweating).
Many of these are just common sense but it’s always worth repeating! With these tips in mind, seniors can enjoy a day out on the water while staying safe.
Safety Gear For Seniors On A Boat
Just like any other outdoor activity, boating comes with its own set of safety concerns. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the open water!
With a little bit of extra planning and the right safety gear, seniors can safely enjoy boating activities.
All of what we’ve already mentioned in this article, life vests, flotation devices, sunscreen, etc. apply to boating as well.
But in addition to these, when boating, it’s important to have a plan in place in case of an emergency.
Make sure you know how to operate the boat’s radio and navigational equipment and be familiar with the area you’re boating in.
With these safety tips in mind, seniors can enjoy all that boating has to offer. So get out there and explore the waterways of the world!
Part of creating a safer home for older adults includes the outdoors, so I do hope that the tips I outlined in this article can help you and your senior loved ones to stay as safe as possible.