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5 Tips to Help Seniors Manage the Summer Heat

Everyone loves summer. This is often the best time to head out and enjoy the great outdoors. However, the heat and extreme weather associated with summer can present a host of difficulties for seniors. This is partly because the ability to sweat decreases with age, many older adults have underlying health conditions that affect the body's response to heat, and some of the prescription medicines seniors take can contribute to dehydration. To protect yourself, it is important to know the heat-related health dangers for older adults and learn how to manage the summer heat.

Health Problems That May Arise From the Summer Heat

People over the age of 65 are more susceptible to heat-related health concerns. Some health conditions that seniors may suffer during heat waves are:

  • Rash
  • Syncope
  • Cramps
  • Edema
  • Exhaustion
  • Stroke

Heat stress can also make conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes worse. As such, you need to know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and when to seek emergency care.

5 Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

Considering how heat affects older adults, it is necessary to know the precautions you can take to stay safe and comfortable in hot weather. Below are five ways you can keep cool during the summer heat.

1. Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthily 

Dehydration in seniors can lead to a host of heat-related health issues. To stay hydrated, drink plenty of liquids throughout the day. These include cool water, fruit juices, and vegetable juices. However, you should avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks as they may lead to dehydration.

Besides increasing your fluid intake, be sure to eat healthily. Hydrating fruits and vegetables will help to keep you nourished and hydrated.

2. Wear the Right Clothing

The clothes you wear in hot weather can play a big role in helping you stay cool, and avoid sunburns and other ailments caused by excessive heat. This is why you should choose your clothes carefully.

Avoid wearing dark-colored clothes that trap summer heat. Instead, choose loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing. Also, clothes made of breathable fabric such as cotton will allow your body to cool more easily.

3. Stay Away From Direct Sun Exposure

During the hot summer months, avoid heat exposure as much as possible. When you are exposed to the sun, your body will have to work harder to stay cool, something that can leave you feeling fatigued.

During periods of extreme heat, staying indoors will help you beat the heat. To stay safe and comfortable, remember to take cool baths or showers, sleep in the coolest rooms and turn off artificial lights and electronics. 

4. Keep Your House Cool

Stuffy and stagnant air can increase the risk of heat stress in seniors. To encourage airflow and keep your house cool, open the windows and use fans during the hottest part of the day. Alternatively, you can use the air conditioner to keep the temperatures down. 

When traveling by car, make sure you switch on the air conditioning correctly to keep the interior cool during the trip. Whenever you leave an older adult in a parked car, ensure the windows are down.

5. Avoid Stressful Activities in Intense Heat

Even during summer, it is important for seniors to stay active. However, you should avoid vigorous and stressful activities during high heat. This includes home repair, lawn care, and gardening.

To maintain an active lifestyle on hot days, engage in physical activities in the morning or evening.  Outdoor temperatures are cooler in the mornings and evenings, effectively reducing the risk of heat-related health problems.

In the end, checking the local news for health and safety updates will help you stay informed so you can plan ahead for outdoor activities. If you experience the symptoms of a summer heat-related illness, seek medical attention immediately.

How a Caregiver Can Help Keep Seniors Cool in the Summer Heat

It is normal to be a little forgetful as we age. This is why you should consider hiring a caregiver. A home health aide will not only assist with activities of daily living but also help ensure seniors take the right steps to remain safe and healthy during the hot summer months.

Elite Home Health Care is a home health care provider located in New York. We have compassionate and experienced caregivers and offer personalized care plans to ensure you receive quality care in the comfort of your home. Feel free to contact us to request our services.

Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services

Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain managemnet and internal medicine. She oversees allpatient services across Elite's departments.