Summer is upon us and both young and old alike are enjoying the sunny days outdoors. Many families spend time together travelling, having backyard barbecues or going on picnics. However, hot weather can be dangerous, particularly to seniors. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can come on quickly in the elderly so caregivers and families have to be extra conscious of how much time their patients and loved ones spend in the sun.
As you age, the ability to notice changes in your body temperature decreases. Seniors may also have other health conditions that forego spending time in the sun. Prescription medicines can add to dehydration and as dehydration occurs in the elderly, confusion becomes more apparent.
Some ways for seniors to keep safe in the hot weather are:
Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks as these add to dehydration. Foods such as watermelon and cucumber also contain a lot of water and are great to add to picnic lunches.
Look for air-conditioning.
Many seniors live in buildings without central or window air conditioning. While fans can help, when the humidity rises, these may not be enough. Many cities have cooling centers and seniors can also spend time in malls, libraries and theaters which have air conditioning. If you have a loved one who lives in a building without air conditioning, having them stay with you in your cooler residence is a good idea during extreme hot weather.
Avoid strenuous activity.
Hot and humid days are not the time to go for long walks and hikes. Take it easy and avoid exercise, especially outdoor exercise, on these days.
If you notice that a loved one is becoming overheated, get them indoors immediately and have them remove extra layers of clothing. Cool drinks, especially those containing electrolytes can help. Have them take a cool bath and if things don’t improve immediately, they should be brought to the closest emergency room. For more information on hot weather dangers for seniors, click here.