Many people look forward to the warm weather, particularly senior citizens. Spending time outdoors can be healthy and refreshing, but seniors exposed to too much sun and heat could be at risk medically.
One of the factors contributing to seniors’ risk of health implications from hot weather is their loss of the sensation of thirst as they age. Without the desire to drink regularly, individuals could become dehydrated very easily. This, factored in with changes in body temperature regulation, can result in confusion, falls, and other preventable adverse effects.
Safety is of utmost concern during the warm weather. Do not take any situation lightly because it could affect one’s health. Here are some precautions to follow.
- Move slowly: Rushing around in hot weather can cause body temperature to rise more quickly and make you even hotter. Slow down when it is warm and do plenty of relaxing.
- Know the ambient temperature indoors: The heat inside can quickly rise. Keep curtains and blinds drawn to reduce the amount of heat from the sun. Check the thermostat. If there is an air conditioner or fan, turn it on to cool the house if the temperature is creeping above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, seek a cooler location until the home cools.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Beverages such as water, fruit juices, and decaffeinated teas can keep elderly hydrated and in top form. Avoid alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and caffeinated products.
- Skip hot, heavy meals: Opt for cooler fare, such as cold sandwiches, fruit, and salads, to keep the body temperature cooler.
- Plan outdoor activities during cooler hours: If an older person must spend time outdoors, do so early in the morning or in the evening when the temperatures are bound to be lower and less taxing.
- Indulge in a little “cooling off:” Take a dip in a neighborhood pool or eat ice cream. Do what is necessary to stay cool.
- Don’t ignore signs of health problems: If a person feels dizzy, has shortness of breath, has stopped sweating, or is confused it could be heat exhaustion. Call for medical help immediately.