As families bask on the beach or enjoy an outdoor picnic, it is easy to enjoy the summer and the heat that accompanies the season. However, for some of the most vulnerable members of the community, summer temperatures can be something else: a danger to their health.
Summer Weather Can Be Dangerous for Seniors
Senior citizens’ health can be placed at risk due to high summer temperatures, especially in regions where temperatures fluctuate dramatically. As noted in the Senior Living Blog, “warmer temperatures are linked to to an increase in heat stroke in elderly seniors.” Indeed, a Harvard study reported that even the smallest summer temperature increase is accompanied by an elevated risk of mortality for seniors who have chronic conditions.
The circumstances that appear to be the most risky for seniors are areas where the temperature fluctuates daily, rather than where the temperature is consistently high. Heat stress is particularly dangerous for the elderly who suffer from chronic conditions, including lung disease, diabetes, and heart disease, including heart failure.
Preventing Heat Stress and Illness for Seniors
To avoid these risks and help protect yourself and the seniors in your life, there are useful steps that you can take to prevent heat stress, exhaustion, or stroke.
1. Make Sure to Drink Plenty of Water. Dehydration is damaging to anyone’s health, especially that of seniors with chronic health conditions in high summer temperatures. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink water. Drinking water is always important to maintain one’s health, and even more so when so much body water is lost to sweat.
2. Stay Indoors in Air-Conditioned Locations. The best time to be outdoors in mid-summer is before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm, avoiding the hottest period of the day. During those high-heat hours, stay indoors and in an air-conditioned location. If your home or that of your relative is not air-conditioned, look into home renovation and installation of a central air-conditioning system.
3. Wear Light Summer Clothing. In the summer, the most important thing for seniors to keep in mind is staying cool, not covering up. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in natural fibers like cotton or linen make excellent summer garment choices. Sleeveless shirts, shorts, or skirts are also good for the hottest summer weather. A sun hat may also help to shade the head and face. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Sun protection with a high SPF is necessary for skin health and preventing sunburn on those blazing summer days.
4. Avoid Strenuous Activity and Watch Out for Symptoms. In the intense summer heat, avoid strenuous home repair, gardening, or sports activities that require a significant amount of physical exertion. This is a good time to attend an indoor gym to get your exercise. And keep the symptoms of heat sickness in mind, including dizziness, chest pain, fainting, headache, or nausea. If you or someone you love starts to feel sick in the heat, seek medical attention immediately.
Summer heat can pose a real threat to seniors. Knowing the risks and planning to avoid them can make a substantial difference in keeping you and those you love safe and secure in all kinds of weather.
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