Is it just me, or does this summer feel hotter than the last? Don’t get me wrong, I love summer! But I also know the heat associated with it can cause significant health risks, especially in the elderly.
People age 65 and older are at a higher risk for heat stress because their bodies do not adjust to changes in temperature as well as those of younger people. This could be due to a chronic medical condition or prescription medications that interfere with the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or perspire.
It’s important to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun’s powerful rays. If not treated promptly and properly, some of these complications can cause irreversible damage and even death. The following tips will help you stay cool while you enjoy the warm weather with family and friends!
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of cool fluids, especially water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. The daily recommended amount is about eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day; however, you should always check with your physician about any prescriptions or vitamins that may interfere with your fluid intake.
- Take it easy: Enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation, and don’t overexert yourself.
- Enjoy air-conditioning: If you don’t have AC, visit a shopping mall or public library to escape from the heat for a little while. You can also take a cool bath or shower to help you cool down.
- Dress smart: Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing that breathes easy. Hats, long sleeves and pants can help add an extra layer of protection between you and the sun.
- Avoid sun during peak hours: The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Opt to eat lunch indoors in AC and seek shade if you are outside.
- Wear sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply at least 20 minutes before going outside so it has a chance to be absorbed by your skin, and reapply regularly throughout the day, especially if you’re perspiring or swimming.
Especially when it’s hot, make it a habit to check in on your elderly neighbors and loved ones. If they are unable to drive, offer to take them shopping or to lunch – somewhere there is AC. If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, seek medical assistance immediately.
Warning signs of heat stroke include:
- Elevated body temperature with the absence of sweat
- Rapid pulse
- Red, flushed complexion
- Headache, dizziness or nausea
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Heavy perspiration
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
Most importantly, listen to your body! If you’re ever concerned about how you’re feeling, call your doctor immediately. Summer is meant to be enjoyed, but you don’t have to melt doing it! For more tips and information on summer safety, visit www.redcross.org.