With summer comes an increase in mosquitoes. Elders are of a particular concern for mosquito bites because they are at a greater risk for the West Nile Virus. Although rare, elders, especially those older than 65, can suffer from complications like inflammation in the brain or paralyzed muscles. Protecting you and your family from mosquito bites is a good habit to get into this summer and fall. Here are some tips to get you there.

  • Keep the body covered. Before heading outdoors, encourage your loved one to wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes that will keep their skin protected. Wide-brimmed hats offer a dual purpose because they protect against sunburn and keep bugs out of the face.

  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes rest. These areas include shaded, bushy areas. Be mindful of this when you want to bring your loved one in an area that is shaded. You may find that an umbrella is a better source of shade rather than an area surrounded by trees and bushes.

  • Limit peak mosquito times. This includes dusk and dawn. It’s easy to want to be outdoors at this time since the weather is cooler, but the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes is much higher.

  • Use an insect repellent. Ones containing DEET are most effective, and they are generally safe to use on seniors. If your loved one is sensitive to bug sprays, you can find DEET in products like moist towelettes and pump sprays. When your loved one comes indoors, have them wash their hands with soap and water to remove the DEET.

  • Remove breeding areas. Standing water is the number one place where mosquitoes breed. Make sure that all standing water in birdbaths, piles of wood, old tires, potted plants and so on is dumped out.

  • Keep mosquitoes out of the home. Check for screens on windows and doors to make sure they do not have holes. Even the smallest tears will allow mosquitoes and other insects to sneak through.

If your parent does get bitten by a mosquito, be on the lookout for symptoms like rashes, swollen glands, headaches, stiff neck, confusion or body aches. Take them to the doctor as a precaution. West Nile is not curable, but early intervention may lessen the symptoms.