The summer months have brought warm temperatures and longer days. While many of us are enjoying the hot weather and catching rays outside, it’s important to remember to check in on our senior neighbors and loved ones.
Rising temperatures affect older adults differently and they can be more prone to heat-related health issues.
Why does heat affect seniors differently?
Adults age 65 and older are more susceptible to heat-related health problems. This is due to a couple of factors.
Seniors do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature. They are also more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat. And, older adults are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.
Ways to help seniors beat the heat
If you are a senior or caregiver, you need to know how to stay safe during the heat. Here are seven ways older adults can keep cool during hot summer months.
1. Drink plenty of liquids
Staying hydrated is key when it comes to avoiding heat-related health issues. Seniors tend to lose fluids faster than other age groups. Drink plenty of water and other hydrating liquids during hot days.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. You may want to increase your regular water intake during the summer. If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you should drink or has you taking water pills, consult them about how much water to consume when it’s hot out.
2. Keep air flowing
Stagnant, stuffy air can make seniors more prone to heat stress. Use fans and open the windows in your home to encourage airflow.
Stay in air conditioning as much as possible. Consider using a window air conditioner if your home does not have central cooling. Your local health department may be able to help you get a cooling system for your house.
3. Stay cool in cars
Cars can get dangerously hot during summer months. When traveling by car, start the vehicle before you leave to get the air conditioner running. If a senior stays in the car while you go into a store, make sure the windows are down.
4. Wear the right clothing
To stay cool, wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid wearing black or dark clothing in the sun because they will absorb heat and make you feel hotter. Some clothes are designed to wear in high temperatures. Look for clothing that is made of breathable fabrics and contains SPF.
5. Wear sunscreen and bug spray
The summer sun and bugs can make for an uncomfortable season. Keep bug spray and a high-SPF sunscreen on hand. Apply both regularly in accordance with the label instructions.
6. Avoid stressful activities in intense heat
Even very active seniors should be careful about vigorous activities during high heat. It can be difficult to give up activities or responsibilities as we get older, but it’s sometimes necessary to maintain health and independence.
Seniors should avoid over-extending themselves during hot summer days. Tasks such as mowing and gardening should be saved for cooler days or be passed onto a landscaping company.
7. Stay informed
Check your local news for health and safety updates to prepare for the day ahead. Know the signs of heat exhaustion, such as muscle cramps, headaches, and nausea, and seek medical attention immediately if you or a senior is experiencing heat-related symptoms.
VANTAGE Aging promotes a positive perspective on aging through a variety of programs and services for older adults. From home-delivered meals and homecare to job training and volunteering, our wraparound services are designed to help seniors thrive. Contact us today at 330-253-4597 or visit us online to learn more.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.