For most people, the bright, warm days of summer are a welcome change from the rain of spring and the frigid cold of winter. Unfortunately, summer can also bring incredibly hot days, which can be of specific concern when it comes to seniors. When we age, we become increasingly more affected by summer heat. According to the CDC, from 1999-2009, roughly 40 percent of all heat-related deaths in the U.S. (that’s almost 3,000) were adults who were over 65 years of age.
Why is the heat more dangerous for seniors?
As the body ages, it becomes less and less able to properly regulate temperatures. Seniors often sweat less than younger adults, which is a key way the body cools itself down. When the body increases in temperature and doesn’t have an effective way to regulate that temperature, it can lead to a whole slew of heat-related illnesses.
How do I make sure my loved one is protected?
Keep them hydrated.
Seniors can be less aware of their thirst, and encounter difficulty when trying to adjust to a temperature change. Drinking plenty of fluids, and eating foods that have a high water content are the best way to remain hydrated. Fruits like melons, berries, apples, oranges, and peaches, and vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, celery, and cauliflower are all great foods with a high water content.
Consult their doctor about any medication being taken.
Some medications can lose their effectiveness, or be affected by higher temperatures. Usually this is a result of being stored in places that are above room temperature. Consult with your doctor to see if anything your loved on is taking might be affected.
Avoid sun exposure.
On days when the sun is blazing hot, it’s best to avoid being outdoors. If your senior doesn’t have air conditioning, encourage them to go to the movies, visit the mall or library, or enroll in some activities at a local senior or community centre.
Take some time to cool off.
Having your loved one take a shower or bath can be a great way for them to bring down their body temperature. The evaporation of the water off their body will get rid of the heat, and deliver some much-needed relief once they get out.
Bright summer days can be a welcome sight, but it’s important to understand the effects it can have on your senior, and how to combat and prevent them. These were just a few ideas, so if you have some more, we’d love to hear them – post them in the comments below!