Ways to Stay Safe and Beat the Heat of Summer
Make Sure to Drink Enough Water
One of the ways that all of us can stay healthier and safer during the summer months is to make sure we are drinking plenty of water. However, for seniors, it is even more critical. Home healthcare workers or friends, or family that take care of seniors should ensure they have access to water at all times and that they're drinking more than usual. Also, seniors should avoid certain drinks that have caffeine in them, which can be dehydrating. And take advantage of certain foods that contain high water content, like soup, yogurt, jello, and fruits and vegetables. These foods can help seniors meet the daily water requirement.
Stay Inside During the Heat of the Day
It sounds obvious but during the hottest hours of the day, stay indoors. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, going to places like libraries, museums, churches, and community centers is a good option if you can get there safely. In other words, don't try to walk in the heat of the day to get to air conditioning. You’re better off staying in your home with a fan than exerting yourself. If you can't afford air conditioning, some programs can help provide free or discounted air conditioning for seniors.
Limit Activity Outdoors
Exercise is always essential but limits your outside activities when it's warmer and takes advantage of things you can do indoors. Community centers may offer activities such as ping pong or swimming. Other options might be walking indoors at a mall or using a treadmill. The most important thing is staying safe while also remaining as active as possible, which helps with physical and mental wellness.
Wear Loose, Light-Colored Clothing
Wearing loose-fitting and light-colored clothing will help keep heat away instead of absorbing it. It also keeps the sweat from getting trapped against the body, which means better evaporation.
Don't Use the Oven or Stove
Cold food is often a better choice when it's hot outside. In the summer months, using the stove or the oven can heat a house quickly, causing higher electric bills as the air conditioner has to work harder. And if a senior doesn't have air conditioning, the house could soon reach dangerous heat levels.
Check on One Another
Family, friends, and neighbors should always check on seniors who are exposed to hot summer weather. If you can’t visit in person, try to catch up on video so you can speak with them as well as visibly see signs of dehydration which can include:
More noticeable mobility issues, like difficulty walking
Dizziness, confusion, or frequent headaches
Dry, sticky mouth or nose
Low blood pressure and rapid heart rate
Decreased urine output or constipation
Dry skin and sunken eyes
Low tear or sweat production
Less skin elasticity - lightly pinch the skin on the back of the hand; if it doesn’t bounce back right away, it’s a good sign of dehydration.
Overall, summer can be one of the most enjoyable seasons of the year. There are long days, more sunshine, and it can also be a more relaxed time to spend visiting with family and friends. So, as long as you and your loved ones follow some simple tips to "beat the heat," you can enjoy the summer regardless of your age.
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