Hot weather remains a threat to those who are elderly or are compromised medically. Medications and pre existing conditions can exacerbate the effects of heat as well as the the threat of dehydration which can be very dangerous.
A University of Chicago Medical Center study reports that 405 of heat related fatalities are among people over 65 years of age.
Hot Weather Tips For Seniors
1. Drink plenty of liquids. Dehydration can be the cause of many heat related health problems. Experts advise, particularly in very warm weather to:
- Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks and
- caffeinated drinks, as both can actually contribute to dehydration.
2. Wear appropriate clothes for the weather. Keep in mind the old Swedish saying saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Wear clothes appropriate to the weather and humidity. Light colored and light fitting clothes are always a good choice. Shield your head with a wide brimmed hat. RASH guard shirts are helpful to shield sun rays for those with sun sensitive skin.
3. Keep an eye on the heat index.
When there’s a lot of moisture in their air (high humidity), the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating is impaired. The heat index factors humidity and temperature to approximate how the how the weather really feels. The current heat index can be found on weather websites and is also usually announced on local TV and radio weather reports during periods of warm weather.
4. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day.
During periods of extreme heat, the best time to go out is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.
5. Take it easy!
Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, when the temperature is hot and humidity levels rise.
6. Air conditioning is your friend.
Seek an air conditioned environment. Anyone without an air conditioned home should consider seeking an air conditioned space during extreme heat wave. The local mall, senior center, library, or movie theater are all popular options. Many communities open cooling centers during heat waves to assist those without access to air conditioning.
Cool baths, showers, neck wraps can also assist to help keep cool at home during hot weather.
7. Keep alert to the signs of heat related illnesses.
Know the warning signs of heat-related illness which can include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Fainting and breathing problems
Each of the above symptoms can be a sign of a heat related illness and medical assistance for evaluation should be sought.