Top Tips for the Summer
As we age, we gradually lose the ability to regulate our body temperature.
This is why older people tend to overdress — they don't feel heat the same way anymore. Older skin also thins and offers less protection from the sun. Medications taken for a variety of diseases and symptoms can interfere with one’s ability to manage hotter weather. A person with cognitive impairment, whether from disease or injury, may not communicate distress, in some cases, they may not even “feel” the heat.
Thus we need to be doubly careful. Keep cool, follow these tips for dealing with hot weather.
- Wear cool light-weight natural fabric clothing; use hats and umbrellas as well as shade covering on scooters and wheel chairs.
- Use air conditioning: If you don’t have air conditioning use room fans to circulate air. When out and about use the car air conditioning to cool down.
- Cover windows: During the day, use the curtains to remove direct sunlight. Open windows at night and use fans to circulate cooler air. An open, uncovered window during the day will simply make the inside temperature the same as outside.
- Avoid direct sun and high levels of air pollution whenever possible: Stay indoors during the hottest hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Use the shade. Check the news for information about temperatures, humidity levels and air pollution alerts.
- Eliminate or limit physical activity: Depending on physical health and doctors advise, either way take advantage of when the heat is not at its peak and seek shade if out.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Drink plenty of water and fruit or vegetable juice avoid alcohol, coffee or tea. Seek medical help if you suspect dehydration.
- Light meals: Avoid hot, heavy meals and avoid using a hot oven or stove.
- Monitor medications: Find out if medications increase the risk for heat stress. Ask a physician about medications being taken, including off-the-shelf items.
- Take cool showers: Lay a cool, moistened towel over the forehead or back of the neck and replace often, run your wrist under a cold tap.
- Check in often: With family and friends so everyone keeps an eye on each other.
SIGNS OF HEAT-RELATED PROBLEMS
Learn the signs of heat-related problems. Seek medical assistance for any of the following signs.
- Heat fatigue: cool, moist skin, a weakened pulse, feeling faint.
- Heat cramps: muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs after exercise. (Note that these may be caused by lack of salt but seek advice before giving salt).
- Watch for thirst, headaches, giddiness, weakness, lack of coordination, nausea, and profuse sweating. Cold, clammy skin. Pupils may contract. Urination decreases and the person may vomit.
- Heat stroke: this is life-threatening! Body temperature rises above 100 degrees F, and the person may become confused, behave bizarrely, feel faint, stagger. Pulse is rapid. Skin is dry, flushed and may feel hot. Lack of sweating. Breathing may be fast and shallow. Pupils may widen or dilate. Delirium, seizures or convulsions, and coma are possible.
Note following heat stress, a person will likely feel tired and weak for several days. Continued monitoring is important.
“Hyperthermia: Too Hot for Your Health”
National Institute on Aging
www.nia.nih.gov(link is external)
Our team are there to help so don’t hesitate to give us a call if you feel we may be able to assist. You may not be aware of all that is available to shade and shelter you from excessive sun and heat!