Staying Cool During Summer Heat
While it is great for seniors to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, summer heat can be a serious concern. Here, the homecare experts at Avila Home Care detail best practices to stay cool during summer weather.
Seniors are especially susceptible to heat-related illnesses, and a large portion of heat-related deaths are those 65 and older. This is because as we age, it becomes more difficult to retain water—seniors also sweat less than younger adults, which is the body’s way of cooling off and regulating body temperature. Because of this, it is critical for seniors to take precautions during hot summer months. These tips will help keep the elderly safe and healthy.
Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses can come on quickly. At first, those afflicted will feel tired, weak, and dizzy. They may experience headaches and muscle cramps. If left untreated, nausea, vomiting, and fainting can occur. Heat stroke occurs when body temperature rises too quickly to be naturally regulated by the body. It’s very serious, causing confusion, a lack of sweat production, seizures, and even a coma—9-9-1 should be called immediately if symptoms are present.
Drinking water frequently—two to four glasses every hour—is your best defense against heat-related illness. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink; feeling thirsty means you are already dehydrated. While ice cold water may feel refreshing on a hot summer day, the ice actually reduces the rate of fluid absorption, so drinking water that is cool, but not ice cold, is the best choice. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages should be limited on hot days, as they further dehydrate the body. Besides water, electrolyte drinks (those containing salt and potassium) are also great for seniors, as they replace critical compounds that help regulate body temperature.
Retreat to Indoor Spaces
Shopping malls, movie theaters, public libraries, and other indoor spaces provide welcome relief from sweltering temperatures. Even 10 minutes spent indoors can be the difference between relief and heat exhaustion. If you must go outside, limit your activity to non-peak sun hours: usually the time before 10am, and after 4pm.
Wear Proper Clothing and Sun Protection
Certain fabrics are better than others for staying cool: linen, cotton, silk, and even rayon are great choices for summer wear. Wear as few layers as possible, but a hat and light scarf can be great for keeping the sun off. Sunglasses are especially critical for seniors, as aging eyes are more susceptible to strong light. Sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 is advisable for young and old alike, and should be reapplied every ninety minutes, or after exposure to water.
Have a Buddy, Be a Buddy
There’s no shame in asking for help, especially when your health is on the line. Make a list of contacts for emergencies, and have a friend, relative, or caretaker check on you regularly during hot weather. Pay it forward by checking on others in the neighborhood—if someone’s air conditioning is broken or inadequate, invite them over, or spend the day at the mall with them.
By following these tips, you can spend your summer days in good health and safety. At Avila Home Care, we put our elderly client’s health at the top of our list of priorities. If you are interested in one of our hardworking, dedicated homecare providers, contact us today!
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