Six Summer Survival Tips for Seniors
As we welcome another hot and humid Australian summer, it is important we take care to keep hydrated and healthy.
Heat affects people in different ways. Heat related illnesses are more prevalent amongst seniors and young children, those who are overweight (or underweight); have poor circulation; have high blood pressure; suffer from a debilitating illness such lung and kidney disease; are on medications such as sedatives, diuretics and other heart/blood pressure drugs; or who smoke or drink alcoholic beverages.
Below we share Home Instead’s top six summer survival tips for seniors:
It seems simple but drink plenty of water! Drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day even if you don’t feel thirsty. Don’t like the taste of water alone? Try adding a slice of lemon or lime to the water. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables can also help hydrate the body.
Wear for the weather
As we get older, people generally don’t feel the heat as much as they used to, and may overdress. You can help aged friends and family members select or suggest appropriate clothing, especially materials that breathe such as natural cotton. Avoiding blacks and browns that absorb rather than reflect the heat will also help you keep your body at a normal temperature.
Cool your home
Many seniors tend to use air conditioners and fans sparingly as they fear running up a big power bill. However according to Beacon Lighting ceiling fans only cost around three cents an hour to operate so you could recommend them as an affordable option. Other things you can recommend include keeping security screened windows open at night, taking advantage of cross ventilation, and keeping curtains, blinds and shutters drawn during the hottest part of the day, or when exposed to direct sunlight. If you do not have air conditioning stay on the lower level in your home – heat rises.
Stay out of the sun
Stay inside or in the shade, in the breeze, if there is one, when the sun is at its hottest. Take a trip to the shops or the cinema or the library and enjoy some time in air conditioned premises. And don’t forget to slip, slop, slap! Use sunblock with at least SPF30+ when going outdoors, even on cloudy days.
Don’t overdo it
Your normal outdoor activities such as gardening, household chores or other strenuous activities can be draining and even more so on hot, humid days. Don’t do any more than you need to and be sure to take frequent rest breaks, and drink plenty of water and other fluids such as fruit juices.
Hot weather can cause a lot of problems for the elderly, and the mercury doesn’t have to hit the high 30’s before they start showing signs of a heat-related illness.
These illnesses – collectively called hyperthermia – include headaches, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke which is particularly dangerous for those over 50, and requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of a heat-related illness:
- Sudden Fatigue
- Profuse sweating
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle cramping (especially in the arms, legs and abdomen)
- Pale, cold or clammy skin
- Rapid heart beat
- Weakened pulse
In case of Heat Stroke call 000* IMMEDIATELY!
Urgent medical attention should be sought if an aged loved one faints, staggers, appears confused or suffers from any of the following symptoms:
- A body temperature above 40 degrees
- A strong rapid pulse
- Acts strangely or becomes combative
- Dry flushed skin (with little or no sweat)
- Becomes delirious or falls into a coma
If you have senior friend, family member or neighbour who could be suffering from the summer heat, be sure to check in with them regularly and share these summer survival tips.