Keeping Cool this Summer
In the heat of summer, it’s vital to remember to help seniors stay cool in the warm weather. If your Mom or Dad enjoys being outdoors in the fresh air, it’s a big plus – we simply need to be mindful of the effect of temperature on an older adult. Just as in the winter we think about keeping warm, staying cool and hydrated during the summer months is equally essential.
Remember not to use your own heat tolerance as a barometer for your loved one. Your younger body experiences temperature differently than an older person. Some things to consider:
1. Certain medications can cause increased sensitivity to heat and sun. Know the signs of possible distress (see below) and if necessary, consult with the physician who prescribes medication and helps you care for your loved one.
2. Senior water aerobics is a wonderful exercise and helps to stay cool. Always consult your physician before starting a new exercise; if water exercise is already part of someone’s routine, all the better!
3. Being out in nature is always a wonderful mood elevator!
4. Dressing appropriately! Just as wearing layers is a great strategy in the colder months, it works in higher temps as well. If communication is difficult, be aware of non-verbal signs of discomfort. Some examples are perspiration, shortness of breath, disorientation, increased confusion and/or a flushed face.
5. We all need to drink a lot of water, but it is particularly important for our elders, even more so in summer when perspiration is likely. A tip to encourage someone to drink more water is to add some flavor to the pitcher. Fresh seasonal fruits or mint might keep them reaching for another glass.
6. Recognize signs of distress. Summer heat can cause heat exhaustion, shortness of breath, and heat stroke. It is important to know what to look for!
- Dry skin – no sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trouble breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms it can be serious and may require medical attention.
Hydrated and Healthy
As the summer months roll on, it becomes even more important for everyone, including seniors to prioritize hydration. Aging bodies are more susceptible to dehydration, and hot weather can exacerbate the risk. In this article, we will explore the reasons why drinking water, particularly during the summer months, is essential for seniors.
1. The Risks of Dehydration
Seniors face a higher risk of dehydration due to various physiological factors. The body’s ability to conserve water diminishes with age, and the sensation of thirst may also decrease. Additionally, certain medications commonly taken by seniors can increase the likelihood of dehydration. Hot weather compounds these risks by causing more rapid fluid loss through sweating. Dehydration in seniors can lead to a range of health complications, including urinary tract infections, constipation, kidney problems, dizziness, confusion, and even heat stroke.
2. Maintaining Optimal Health
Drinking an adequate amount of water is vital for maintaining optimal health in seniors. Water plays a crucial role in regulating body temperature, aiding digestion, transporting nutrients, and flushing out waste products. Proper hydration supports joint health, prevents muscle cramps, and promotes healthy skin. Consuming adequate water reduces the risk of urinary tract infections and constipation. It also helps to support cognitive function and can prevent the risk of falls by reducing dizziness and maintaining overall mental clarity.
3. Easy Hydration Tips
- Drink water regularly throughout the day, aiming for at least 8-10 glasses.
- If plain water is unappealing, try infusing it with fruits or herbs for added flavor.
- Carry a reusable water bottle when going outside to make it easier to drink regularly.
- Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Consume hydrating foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, and soups.
- Consider setting reminders or using mobile apps to track water intake.
- Be aware of the signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, dark urine, fatigue, or dizziness.
Staying hydrated is crucial for everyone, especially during the summer months. By following these simple hydration tips, seniors can prioritize their well-being and enjoy a safe and refreshing summer season.