Senior tips for staying cool this summer

Though autumn will be here before we know it, there are sure to be some more hot days as summer winds down. Extreme heat isn’t pleasant for anyone, but it’s important for seniors to take special precautions on those days that the mercury is sky-high.

High-heat risk factors 
There are several factors that make older adults especially susceptible to high temperatures. Decreased circulation, incorrect use of medications, too low or too high weight levels and a changed sense of thirst due to age can all increase the risk of problems in hot weather, according to the Chronicle Herald.

McGill University adds that people who have chronic illnesses like cardiovascular, neurological or respiratory diseases and diabetes are at an even greater risk in the heat. Just spending even a little time in the glare of the sun or in a room without ventilation, fans or air conditioning can put seniors at risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

There are a number of tips that you can follow to stay healthy in hot weather:

Drink lots of fluids
Constant replenishment of water is essential to staying hydrated and replacing the fluids lost through sweat. Drink lots of liquids throughout the day, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water, since you can be dehydrated without feelings of thirst, Health Canada notes. Water is best, but you can also add a little juice to water for extra flavour. The agency also reminds that if you eat less, you may need to drink more water.

Eat extra fruits and vegetables
Another way to help stay hydrated is to eat extra fruit and vegetables, since they have a high water content, advises the Chronicle Herald. Consuming lighter meals more frequently throughout the day is also a good idea in very hot weather.

Stay cool indoors 
Draw the blinds or close the curtain in your home to block the sun’s rays. Do not do physical activity outside in very hot weather. Instead, maximize your time spent in air conditioned areas. If you have fans, make sure they are directed toward you. Health Canada recommends taking cool showers or baths to help you feel refreshed throughout the day.

Take precautions outdoors 
It is safest to avoid going outdoors on extremely hot days. If you are outdoors, move to a shaded area or take a break in a cool building like a supermarket, library or community center.

Travel safely
Do not sit in a parked vehicle on a hot summer day, even for a little while. The temperature inside the car can quickly heat up – when the outside temperature is 23 degrees Celsius, the temperature in the vehicle can reach upward of 50 degrees Celsius – a dangerously high level. When traveling in a car or bus, make sure there is air conditioning or that the fans are on or the windows are open.

Dress for the heat
On hot days, it’s important that sweat can evaporate so that the body can efficiently cool itself. Wear loose clothing that is made from light, breathable fabric and that is white or light-coloured.