keep seniors cool this summer

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Keeping Your Senior Loved Ones Healthy this Summer

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When the summer heat rolls around everyone looks for ways to stay cool. Seniors, people suffering from chronic health conditions, and younger children, however, can all have a more difficult time with summer heat. They have higher risk of overheating and becoming dehydrated. A key to staying safe and healthy in the summer is to be able to regulate body temperate; all these groups have trouble with temperature regulation. In fact, a number of commonly prescribed medications for a number of common conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) can make it even hard for the body to properly regulate temperature. Because of this, it can be challenging to keep seniors cool and healthy in the summer heat.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaution in Seniors

With the higher risk of suffering from heat stroke and heat exhaustion, before learning how to prevent it, it’s important to learn to recognize it. Below are the symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion. This list will help you catch symptoms early before they become deadly and severe.

When in the heat:

  • Dizziness
  • Sudden muscle cramps
  • Edema (Swelling of the feet and/or legs)
  • Changes in behavior
  • Confusion
  • Dry Skin
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Temperature of 104 degrees

If you spot any of these signs or symptoms in a loved one, work fast to get them hydrated and cool, and seek medical care.

Keeping Seniors Cool and Healthy this Summer

Firstly, be prepared to do regular wellness checks on your loved ones. Work with family members and friends to regularly visit (twice a day if heat is extreme). You’ll also want to be sure that you check and double check both the interior and exterior of a senior loved ones home. There are many different ways for a loved one to trip and fall outside that are missed in the cooler weather because they stay inside more. Lastly, give your loved one a list of emergency contacts so that if something does happen or they start to feel unwell, they can get assistance.

Tips for Helping Seniors Stay Cool in the Heat

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Stay Hydrated

Remind seniors to drink lots of water but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Encourage them not to wait till they feel thirsty, but drink throughout the day. People over sixty are more likely to be dehydrated, so they should drink and keep drinking throughout the day.

Enjoy Cool Snacks

Help your senior loved ones enjoy cool snacks to stay cool in the heat. These kinds of snacks help to keep your body cool from the inside. Ideal options are things like fruit juice popsicles and frozen grapes.

Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

A great way to help reduce the risk of dehydration during hot weather, and to keep seniors cool, is to encourage them to increase their intake of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables!

Avoid Rich, Heavy Meals

Help senior loved ones avoid heavy meals. The best meals to keep seniors cool are light meals such as salads and sandwiches. If your loved one is adventurous you could try out a gazpacho! Gazpacho is a cold soup and there are many delicious varieties to try.

Cool Down Senior Homes

Try to keep the home as cool as possible. If your loved one doesn’t have air conditioning or doesn’t like to run their air conditioning to save money, keep shades pulled down. A dark home interior will be cooler than one with the shades open. You can also use fans to keep air circulating.

Dress for Warm Weather

Pick cool clothing and fabrics that breathe to keep your senior loved ones cool. Avoid heavy, or polyester clothes that don’t breathe. Plus, make sure they keep skin and eyes protected. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats are all a great way to keep skin and eyes safe. Remember, some medications and medical conditions may require seniors to cover most, or all, of their skin.

Be Smart About Activity
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Seniors don’t have to avoid their favorite activities when the weather is hot as long as everyone is smart about it. Activities should be done in the earlier hours when temperatures are still nice and cool. Low impact activities like gardening or tai chi are usually safe, but on days of extreme heat it may be best to hang out inside.

If your senior loved one doesn’t want to stay home, head out for activities at places with air conditioning. Spend time at the mall, a senior center, libraries, or even a cooling shelter during extreme heat.

Get Wet to Keep Seniors Cool

Encourage seniors to take a shower or a bath in cooler water. Help them apply a washcloth to the back of the neck, in the armpits, and behind the knees. They can also sit with your feet in a pan of cool, but not cold, water. You can even use a flexible ice blanket. These can be put in your freezer and then pulled out once chilled and worn over their clothing.

Pay Attention and Stay Educated

Make sure you and your senior loved one know the side effects of their medications. Work together to plan ahead to avoid medication related issues in extreme heat.

Make sure your senior loved one knows to seek help the minute they start to feel unwell. Reassure them that you will not be annoyed if they ask for help! Remember, there are many conditions that can cause issues with the body’s ability to handle heat including high blood pressure and diabetes. Senior loved ones may need immediate attention if they begin feeling unwell in order to avoid severe complications from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

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