In no time at all, the hot & humid months of summer will be on us. Hot weather brings its own special set of challenges – sunburns, biting insects, heatstroke and dehydration to name a few. For senior citizens, it’s important to be especially mindful of health issues in these upcoming months. As we grow older, our body doesn’t respond to external changes in temperature as quickly as it once did, and becomes less efficient at regulating our body temperature. In addition, some medications can interfere with the body’s nature cooling ability, so it’s best to take plenty of precautions to prevent overheating.
Here are 5 ways to stay healthy in the heat.
Air Conditioning. Keep your home at a comfortable level with air-conditioning and the use of ceiling or other fans. If your home doesn’t have air-conditioning, consider going to the local mall, library, movie theater, senior center, or other location that is air-conditioned for the hottest hours of the day. According to the Center for Disease Control, air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.
Fluids. Staying hydrated is important every day, but especially when the temperatures rise. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exposure to high temperatures, and especially if you’re active in the heat. Water is ideal, but remember to stay away from products with caffeine or alcohol when trying to stay hydrated.
Sunscreen. Always use a broad-spectrum, high SPF sunscreen when venturing outdoors to prevent sunburn and sun damage to the skin. Lightweight long sleeved fabrics, wide brimmed hats, umbrellas or parasols and sunglasses are also ways to help protect your body from the sun.
Activity. If you must be outside when temperatures are soaring, try to do any activity in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are at their lowest for the day. Limit exercising, or exercise in air-conditioned environments. Keep a spritzer bottle handy to spray on your body to help it cool itself.
Water. Not only is water good for inside the body, but it’s good for outside the body as well. Dip your feet in a cool pan of water, take a swim in a local pool, or take a moderately cool shower to help when you feel overheated. You can also keep a wet washcloth around the back of your neck to help keep you cool.
“Hot summer temperatures can be particularly dangerous for senior citizens,” said Dr. Madhoun, Medical Director for Heritage Hall – Rich Creek. “Using extra precautions, and especially staying hydrated, can help keep you healthy and prevent heatstroke or other emergency situations.”