With temperatures continuing to rise as summer comes into full swing, it is important to make the safety of our seniors a top priority.
Keeping cool and hydrated are essential for everyone to keep in mind during the hot summer months, but it is extremely important for the health of our seniors.
According to the National Weather Service, hundreds of people die across the country each year as a result of a heat. The elderly are even more susceptible to heat-related deaths, as our bodies become less efficient at regulating body temperature as we age.
Today, we’re sharing 5 tips that all caretakers and families should know to keep seniors safe in the summer.
Tips to Keep Seniors Cool in the Summer
1. Cover Windows
During the hot weather, you can keep a room cool by shutting blinds and curtains on windows. This is a simple preventative measure to avoid a room overheating.
2. Eat Smaller Meals
Our bodies use metabolic heat to break down our foods, which means our bodies warm up as they process larger meals. Eating smaller meals regularly throughout the day can help to keep our bodies cool.
3. Wear Appropriate Clothes
Dressing for the weather can have a big impact on how seniors stay cool. More natural fabrics such as cotton are often cooler alternatives to synthetic fibers. You should also choose lighter colors and more loose-fitting clothes.
If seniors are going to be outside in the warm temperatures, additional precautions should be taken, including wearing hats and applying sunscreen.
4. Know the Signs of Distress
Elderly people are at a higher risk for hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature, during the summer months. At its extreme, hyperthermia can lead heat stroke and can be life-threatening.
According to Care.com, there are 8 warnings signs to be aware of:
- Body temperature higher than 104 degrees
- Changes in behavior, such as confusion, agitation, or grouchiness
- Dry skin
- Quickened pulse or heavy breathing
- Lack of sweat, especially when it is hot out
If you or your loved one experiences these systems, it’s important to seek out professional medical attention immediately.
5. Stay Hydrated
Last but certainly not least, it’s extremely important to stay hydrated during the warm summer months. Drinking just a few cool glasses of water throughout the day can help to bring your body temperature down. If you are outside or sweating more excessively, make sure that you are compensating with extra water intake.
While staying hydrated is important for everyone, it’s especially important for seniors, as they are more susceptible to dehydration. Furthermore, as we age, we can become less aware of our thirst and have a more difficult time adjusting to temperature and weather changes.
In addition to drinking extra water, seniors should avoid drinking caffeine-based beverages like coffee and tea. These caffeinated drinks can irritate the bladder, causing seniors to make more trips to the bathroom and become more dehydrated.
Dr. Greenough of Johns Hopkins Geriatric Center offers a bonus tip for keeping seniors hydrated. Dr. Greenough recommends that caregivers give seniors sweat replacement products that contain salt and potassium. These products will help to replace the water they lose during the warm weather.
Additional Resources for Seniors
The US Government provides public services for older adults and their families. You can use eldercare.gov’s Eldercare Locator to find services in your local community, such a programs to help seniors with less financial resources get air conditioners.
For more tips for having a safe summer, you can visit our most recent blog posts in our Summer Safety series below: