As the threat of coronavirus lingers, many older adults continue to adhere to strict social distancing standards. Spending time outdoors is one way to safely enjoy summer. Strolls in local parks and gardening combine exercise with stress relief and improved mental health. But time spent outdoors in the Great Lakes region requires staying on guard for ticks, an arachnid linked to Lyme disease.
While some researchers attribute increasing incidences of the disease to growing numbers of ticks, others say it is due to improvements in diagnosing it. Diagnosis can be challenging because the symptoms of Lyme disease closely mimic many other health conditions.
Where Are Ticks Most Commonly Found?
While ticks are especially fond of wooded areas and tall grass, you can find them on almost any plants, grasses, trees, and shrubs in your yard. Even your flower garden can be a haven for these potentially dangerous insects. They patiently wait for the scent of carbon dioxide exhaled by passing animals (or humans!) and jump on to catch a ride.
As the deer population has increased in many areas of the Great Lakes, so has the number of ticks. They are known to “hitchhike” on deer because it is easier and faster for them to get around. Ticks can also be found in the feathers and fur of wild animals that call your yard home.
This is why it’s important to learn a few best practices for tick prevention.
5 Ways to Avoid Being Bitten by a Tick
- Check for ticks: Be vigilant about checking for ticks after spending time outdoors. Examine your clothing, body, and hair after coming indoors.
- Cover arms and legs: Wear long sleeves and long pants when you are outside. A lightweight, natural material like linen or cotton can help protect you from ticks while keeping you cool.
- Avoid wooded areas: During peak tick season, avoid walking near shrubs and tall grass. Paths where you may brush up against shrubs and tall grass can put you at higher risk for a tick bite.
- Wear insect repellent: Another way to ward off ticks is to apply and reapply insect repellent. Look for those containing DEET and permethrin. They are best at tick prevention.
- Shower after yard time: It will also help if you remove your clothes and throw them in the washer immediately when coming indoors. Then shower and wash your hair.
Finally, learn what symptoms might indicate a tick bite. Doing so will allow you to quickly seek medical intervention.
Common Symptoms of a Tick Bite
While it’s essential to know the symptoms, it’s also important to remember not all tick bites lead to Lyme disease. Most don’t end up being serious.
Signs of a tick bite include:
- A red spot or rash on the skin, referred to as a bullseye
- Itching or burning of the skin
- Localized pain (not as common)
If you are in doubt, call your primary care physician for advice or to schedule an appointment—or virtual telehealth visit—to put your concerns to rest.
Another seasonal irritant many seniors struggle with is allergies. What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Allergy Medications is packed with good information to keep an older loved one safe this summer. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!