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Staying Cool in the Summer Heat for Seniors

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Summer’s here and the heat is on! While you’re reflecting on all the reasons you loved the season as a child…popsicles, playing hide and seek until your mother called you in, riding a bicycle, and going barefoot through the cool green grass…it’s important to keep in mind that as we age, our ability to tolerate heat changes. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy summer—just know how to enjoy it safely.

Why seniors are prone to problems

According to Today’s Caregiver, people over 65 are more prone to heat-related illnesses for several reasons: they do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature; they are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body response to heat; and they are more likely to take prescription medicines that can inhibit the ability to regulate body temperature or that inhibit perspiration. 

In addition, as people age, they begin to lose their sensation of thirst—and sometimes, even how hot they are—so becoming dehydrated is much more likely. 

Summer heat and seniors: tips for enjoying the season.

Drink healthy fluids.

Reduce caffeine and alcohol when the heat surges. Instead, drink extra water and juices, even when you don’t feel that thirsty. Other tricks for staying hydrated include eating more fruits like grapes and watermelon (more than 90% water). Try freezing some fruit like blueberries and mango and make yourself a delicious and cool smoothie.  

Wear a hat.

You’ll be glad later if you avoid too much sun on your head. Also choose light, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fabrics such as cotton. And don’t forget your sunglasses, which offer valuable protection against rays that can damage the eyes and increase risks of cataracts and eye disease.  

Use sunscreen

Summer heat and seniors can be a painful mix without sun protection. Remember to apply sunblock before going outside, even if it’s cloudy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when outside for an hour or more on a warm, sunny day. This may raise their risk of getting skin cancer.

Choose cooler times of the day. 

If you enjoy walking outdoors, try to do it in the early morning or later evening when temperatures are a bit lower and the sun is not directly overhead. Head indoors for a film, concert, or even a restorative 40 winks when the heat is on. Summer heat and seniors calls for some common sense and a bit of moderation (and lots of air conditioning!).  

Even better, walk indoors.

In a senior living community, you can take a stroll down the halls and have the added pleasure of greeting friends, checking the day’s activity calendar, stopping for a chat with a staff member, or just enjoying the air conditioning. Or, drop by a nearby gallery or museum and add some additional pleasure to your walk. 

Eat lighter meals.

Stay away from heavy foods and instead, opt for more salads, vegetables and healthy snacks. Heavy foods, like meat and cheese, tend to make the body work harder to digest, using more water and generating more body heat.

Watch how you feel.

Summer heat and its effect on seniors is something to keep in mind at all times. Anytime you start to feel dizzy, have difficulty breathing or your balance seems to be wavering, stop and rest in a cool place, and let someone know you’re concerned. It’s a good idea to always have a walking buddy if you’re going to be outside for any length of time.

At Peregrine Senior Living, we are here to help you.

Contact us today with any questions you might have about downsizing, senior living, or any other concern. Download our free guide: Motivated Living – What are the “Blue Zones” and how can they help you live a more independent, happy life.

Written by
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

More Articles By
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

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