With summer almost upon us for another year, and parts of the southern U.S. already experiencing temperatures in the nineties, it’s a good to time think about maintaining health in the warm weather to come. Seniors are much more likely to experience the debilitating effects of warm weather and dehydration, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a serious issue and can be fatal. The trick for staying out of health trouble in the hot weather lies primarily in protecting yourself from the effects of the sun, understanding your limits and how hot weather affects your body, and staying hydrated. What follows are seven tips for seniors to stay healthy and to make sure they get enough water during the hot weather.
1 – Limit or Avoid Consuming Dehydrating Substances Like Alcohol and Coffee
In recent years, new research has been showing that coffee and some forms of alcoholic beverages actually have health benefits. That may be true, but all forms of alcohol and coffee are also diuretics, flushing much-needed water from the body, and causing mild dehydration in the process. The last thing your body needs in the hot weather is to be losing water to a diuretic.
2 – Wear Light, Breathable Clothing and a Hat When in Direct Sunlight
Natural fibers worn loose on the body have a natural cooling effect, even in the hottest weather. There is a reason why the Bedouins and other desert-dwelling groups are fully clothed in the hot desert weather – it will keep you cooler.
3 – Always Wear Plenty of Sunscreen & Understand the Numbers
Always make sure that your exposed skin is protected from the harmful, cancer-causing effects of the sun. Also, make sure that your sunscreen hasn’t expired since last summer, and that you understand the duration of its effects and its strength.
4 – Plan Your Outdoor Activities and Exercise for the Cool Parts of the Day
This one is relatively easy. If you can avoid doing anything during the hottest part of the day (typically early to mid-afternoon), then be sure to do so. It’s usually easier to stay cool than to cool down again after getting overheated. The lawn can be mowed at dusk, and the garden weeded in the early morning. Often, there’s no better way to beat the afternoon heat than to do what the Spanish do, and just sleep through it.
5 – Stay Inside When It’s Hot and Use a Fan or the Air Conditioner
During the hottest parts of the day, staying inside may be your best strategy for beating the heat. But if it’s hotter in your house than outdoors, seek refuge at a local mall, community center, or movie theater. You can also employ a damp cloth on the forehead or nape of the neck to help you keep cool.
6 – Drink Plenty of Water
This is the most important thing that you can do to beat heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you have to, you can jazz up your water with fresh mint, cucumber slices, fruit, or simply make it more interesting and buy fizzy water instead. Just do whatever you can to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Keep a bottle or pitcher of water with you at all times and drink periodically, even if you don’t feel thirsty.