The dog days of summer are here, and while the sunshine and warm temperatures are nice, they can be dangerous, too. Warm weather is especially dangerous for senior citizens, so staying safe and understanding how heat effects the senior body is important. We've collected 10 tips that will help you and the senior you care for beat the heat this summer.
Drink Plenty of Water. Hydration is important year-round, but it is more serious during the summer months. Seniors should drink between six and eight glasses of water a day, adding two more for extremely hot days.
Avoid Direct Sunlight. It can be difficult to regulate your body temperature as you age. Seniors should avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day to minimize the risk. Outdoor activity should be greatly limited between 10am and 2pm, according to experts.
Use Air Conditioning. When the temperature outside soars above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 30 Celsius), utilize air conditioning as often as possible, and avoid strenuous activity, especially outside. This goes for in the car, too. Make sure the temperature inside the vehicle is lower than the temperature outside on especially warm days.
Dress Appropriately. Dressing in light clothing can help minimize the risk of overheating. Avoid dark colors, as well, as darker colors can trap more heat, making seniors warmer than they should be.
Check with your Doctor. Check in with a doctor during the summer months if you or a senior you are caring for begins feeling overheated or more tired than usual. Medications may need to be altered to ensure safety during the summer, as some medicines can promote overheating.
Slather on Sunscreen. If you plan to be outdoors, use sunscreen liberally. Not only will it prevent you from burning in the sun, but it will also keep your body temperature down. Sunscreen should be applied on hazy and cloudy days, too, especially if you plan to spend a significant amount of time outdoors.
Ask a Friend to Check In. Seniors who are living alone are at greater risk of heat exhaustion than those who live with others. Because it can be difficult to tell how warm it is for seniors, someone should be checking in regularly to ensure their safety. If you or a senior you are caring for is living alone, plan for someone to check in regularly.
Cool Treats. Ice cream is a summer staple, but it isn't just sugary goodness. The cool treat can help lower the body temperature, and can be utilized (in moderation) by seniors who are looking to beat the heat. Popsicle are also a good option, especially for those who are on a modified or restrictive diet.
Get Educated. Educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion can be lifesaving, whether you are a senior yourself or caring for a senior. Anyone experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion should be moved to a cool place. Hydrants should also be offered while waiting for medical professionals to arrive.
Enjoy Activities in Climate Control. If the home doesn't have air conditioning, consider utilizing services and centers designed for cooling down individuals during warm weather. Senior centers often offer activities and lunch in a climate-controlled environment. Not only can a senior cool down, but they can socialize, too.