Staying cool in summer’s extreme heat
By Sean Delaney
As the summer sun blazes, it brings with it soaring temperatures that can pose significant risks, especially for seniors working, walking, or gardening outdoors. Older adults are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses due to changes in their bodies’ ability to regulate temperature. To ensure a safe and enjoyable summer, seniors must take extra precautions to stay cool and well in the extreme heat.
Hydration is Key: Encourage seniors to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration can sneak up quickly, leading to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Carry a refillable water bottle and take regular sips when outdoors.
Dress for Success: Light-coloured, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing can make a significant difference in staying cool. Opt for fabrics like cotton that allow air circulation and help avoid sweat.
Seek Shade: When working or walking outside, seniors should avoid direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. Take breaks in shaded areas or consider activities during the cooler mornings or evenings.
Proper Sun Protection: Always wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen with a high SPF to protect against harmful UV rays. Sunburn not only raises body temperature but also increases the risk of skin cancer.
Pace Yourself: Avoid overexertion during physical activities. Seniors should take frequent breaks, listen to their bodies, and stop any activity if they start feeling dizzy or unwell.
Cool Down: Create a cool environment indoors by using fans, air conditioners, or taking cool showers or baths. If AC is unavailable, consider visiting air-conditioned public places like libraries or community centres.
Light Meals: Consume light, refreshing meals rich in fruits and vegetables. Avoid heavy, hot foods that can increase body temperature.
Check on Each Other: Seniors living alone should have regular check-ins from family, friends, or neighbors to ensure their well-being during heatwaves.
Know the Signs: Be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion (heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness) and heatstroke (hot and dry skin, confusion, unconsciousness). Seek immediate medical attention if any symptoms arise.
Stay Informed: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories in your area. Plan outdoor activities accordingly or opt for indoor alternatives during extreme heat.
By following these tips, seniors can enjoy a safe and comfortable summer despite the scorching temperatures. Taking proactive measures to stay cool and healthy will ensure they can make the most of the season while minimizing heat-related risks.