Staying Cool for the Summer

Staying cool during the summer months is crucial for senior citizens because seniors are more prone to dehydration, their body can struggle to adjust to heat in old age, and medical prescriptions can further affect the body’s ability to control temperature. However, that doesn’t mean seniors should go into air-conditioned isolation throughout the summer – just adjust their habits!

Seniors can follow these simple tips to stay cool and safe during these hot months:

• Staying hydrated and drinking the proper amount of fluids each day is most important. Senior citizens are said to be more prone to dehydration because they are often less aware that they are thirsty and their bodies are less perceptive to changes in body temperature. In order to avoid dehydration, drink more fluids!
o Attempt to make water part of a daily routine by incorporating it into each meal of the day.
o Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content such as cucumbers, bell peppers, oranges or melons. However, make sure they are eaten raw. Once cooked, they lose a large portion of their water content.
o Make a habit of drinking a full glass of water with medications!
o If water is “too boring” try infusing it with assorted fruits and vegetables. Cucumber and mint (on those extremely hot days); lemon and lime, or cucumber, lime and mint are some tasty suggestions.
o Minimize the amount of alcoholic or caffeinated liquids consumed, as they contain dehydrating elements!
• Seek air conditioning when possible, including shopping malls, coffee shops, movie theaters, public libraries, senior centers, or indoors play centers with the grandkids. At home, the air conditioning should run during the hottest times of the day - usually from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. At night, if there is no air conditioning, be sure to open windows in the house to allow air to circulate.
• Pay attention to eating habits. Aim to eat light, cold meals. Try sticking to cold, fresh salads topped with various fruits and vegetables, fruit smoothies, hard-boiled eggs, and sandwiches. Homemade popsicles are also a great summer snack and an awesome, inside activity to do with grandkids!
• Layering lightweight clothing is recommended during the summer because it allows seniors to remain comfortable out in the sun and in the cool air conditioning. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also essential to avoiding nasty sunburns and exposure.
• Avoiding heat stroke is key. Heat stroke occurs when heat exhaustion goes undetected and progresses. If you suspect heat exhaustion you should seek air-conditioned space where the individual can sit and drink fluids. You can tell if the individual is experiencing heat stroke as they appear disorientated, or, in some cases, lose consciousness or experience seizures. At this point, you should immediately seek medical attention. Other warning signs include chest pain, headache, breathing problems, and dizziness.

The hot summer months do not have to be avoided. They just need to be handled with caution, ease, and plenty of water!