June 1st, 2018
Summer is filled with fun things! Cook-outs, gardening, swimming, hiking. But at the same time we all know that hot weather can be dangerous, especially for older adults, who don’t sweat (and hence, cool their bodies) as easily as younger people. Heating up without sufficiently cooling down can lead to dehydration, which poses more serious risks such as heart attacks, strokes, or kidney failure.
Taking proper precautions during hot weather is important, so here are some great tips that the elderly, as well as their caregivers, can use to make sure they have a fun and safe summer.
REMAIN COOL (AND HYDRATED)
We all know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed on a day when the temperature soars above 90°F. So keep an eye on that outside thermometer, and when it’s “red hot” be sure to keep in mind the following:
*Stay indoors. Or at least out of the sun as much as possible. Reschedule your daytime activities for the evening instead.
*Dress appropriately. Since dark-colored clothes absorb heat, wear light-colored loose-fitting clothes instead, and top things off with a lightweight, broad-brimmed hat.
*Befriend an air conditioner. Can you imagine a “cooler” friend? And if you don’t have A/C at home, go to a movie theater, do window shopping at the mall, or hang out in the local library.
*Stay hydrated. As in plenty of cool water, clear juices, and other liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine.
*Cool down! A tepid shower, bath, or sponge bath can work wonders with your overall body temperature and comfort.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN AND EYES
Excessive or unprotected exposure to the sun is something we’ve been warned about since childhood. But with the gradual and steady depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer, that exposure has become riskier than before, with melanoma and other incidences of skin cancer rising. Hence, the risk to our health has increased, too, and especially for seniors whose bodies are less resistant to harmful UV rays.
*Skin protection. By using a broad spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of a minimum 15 or higher you can safely and effectively shield your skin from the sun.
*Eye protection. Vision loss can be common among the elderly, and too much sun exposure can cause further damage. The answer (of course): a good quality pair of sunglasses.
Who doesn’t enjoy the great outdoors! But even activities like walking or gardening can be risky in intense heat, unless you heed the proper precautions.
*Wear proper clothing and protective gear.
*Keep track of time (so that you don’t stay in the heat too long).
*Drink more water than you would if you were idle.
*Try planning your activity for early morning or later in the evening.
IF SOMETHING DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT, CONSULT A DOCTOR
Heat can definitely take a toll, and sometimes preventable medical problems can arise when we’re not paying attention. So be sure to check with your physician to make sure any medications you’re taking won’t be affected by higher temperatures – especially if you don’t have air conditioning in your home. And also take time to review the warning signs (below) of hyperthermia, or heat stroke.
Seek medical attention immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms:
*Body temperature greater than 104 degrees
*A change in behavior, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy
*Dry, flushed skin
*Nausea and vomiting
*Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse
*Inability to sweat, even if it’s hot out