Warmer weather is here! The unofficial start of summer is right around the corner. So many things can remind us of summer. The smell of fresh cut grass and long days lounging by the pool, sipping an ice-cold drink. The warm sun brightening up the day with colorful flowers blooming everywhere. While some of us love the long lazy days of summer, it is important to remember that excessive heat can be very dangerous. Particularly for our seniors or those with certain health issues. Don’t forget to stop in and check on your elderly neighbors.
There are several reasons the heat effects the elderly negatively. As people get older, the ability to notice changes in body temperature decreases. Many may also have underlying health concerns that make them less able to adapt with heat.
There are some tips for keeping safe in the summer or hot weather, for everyone, not just the elderly.
- Drink plenty of liquid! Dehydration is a huge issue. In the summer months, drink lots of water or juice, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Ask your doctor what they recommend specific to your health plan if necessary.
- Wear the right clothing! When it is hot, wear light colored and lightweight clothing, cotton is best! Loose fitting is also a plus! A wide brimmed hat will also help keep the sun off your face.
- Stay indoors during the mid-day, usually between 12pm – 4pm. It’s also a good idea to avoid any exercise, particularly outdoors during that time when it is very hot out.
- Watch the weather. If there is high humidity, it will feel much hotter out than when the humidity is low.
- If possible, seek out somewhere that has an air conditioner. If your home does not have an a/c go somewhere that does, such as a library, the mall, a senior center, or go see a movie!
- If you live in a home that does not have air conditioning, try to keep your home as cool as possible. Limit use of the oven, keep curtains closed during the hottest part of the day, open the windows only at night.
- Shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool (NOT COLD) water.
Heat Exhaustion is a risk for everyone.
Heat exhaustion is a warning that your body can no longer keep itself cool. Some symptoms are extreme thirst, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, or nausea. You may sweat or you skin may feel cold and clammy. Some people experience a rapid pulse. You should rest in a cool place and take in plenty of fluids. If you do not start to feel better, seek medical attention. Heat exhaustion can progress to a heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.
If you have a heat stroke, you need to seek medical assistance right away. Signs of a heat stroke are, fainting, a change in behavior, body temperature over 104, dry, flushed skin, strong rapid pulse OR a slow, weak pulse. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!