Forecasts for this summer in Seattle say it’s going to be one of the hottest and driest we’ve had in years. This raises some concern for seniors. According the National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related death in the United States and seniors are at particular risk as their sensitivity to temperature changes may have diminished over the years and their bodies may regulate body temperature less efficiently.
Here are some tips to stay healthy during summer’s heat:
Drink plenty of fluids
As we age, our body has a more difficult time conserving water, which can lead to dehydration, one of the more common reasons seniors end up in the hospital. For those who have trouble drinking enough plain water to stay hydrated, eat lots of fruit, mix water with your fruit juices, or add a little lemon or lime to your drinking water.
Find air conditioned environments
If you have air conditioning in your home, run it during the hottest parts of the day, and at night, open your windows to allow in the cool air, which is almost always available in the Puget Sound area. If, your home doesn’t have air conditioning, go to a movie, museum or library. If you must go outside, do it as early in the morning as possible, when temperatures are still relatively cool.
Lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing, make of cotton or linen, are the perfect choices for summer wear. If you’re feeling too cool, dress in layers that are easy to remove if it becomes too hot.
Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
If you experience dizziness, heavy sweating, weakness, a rapid heartbeat, nausea or fainting, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Move to a cool location as quickly as possible and lie down. Loosen your clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible and slowly drink some cool water. Heat stroke is a more serious situation. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, people with heat stroke may experience a high fever, chest pain or unconsciousness. In this case, call 911 immediately. Before paramedics arrive, move the person to a cooler environment and apply cool cloths. Dehydration may be marked by dizziness, fatigue, dark yellow urine with low output, low bold pressure, increased heart rate, muscle cramps, dry mouth, and constipation. In you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, start fluid intake immediately. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start taking fluids. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2015, IlluminAge.