Summer is in full swing and with it comes the hot weather. The National Weather Service generally initiates alert procedures when the Heat Index is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit for two consecutive days, but it doesn’t have to get that hot for you to suffer from overheating or heat stroke.
This is especially true for those over 60 as the body starts having a harder time adjusting to higher temperatures. In fact, people aged 65 and above make up around 36 percent of heat-related deaths in the US.
That doesn’t mean you need to stay inside all summer. After all, summers also mean gardening, BBQ, hiking, going to the beach, and more! With so many activities going on, it would be a shame to stay indoors. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can stay safe and cool during these hot months.
Dehydration is probably the biggest concern for anyone in this blistering weather, but it’s especially true for seniors. Prescription medication and certain chronic conditions can make you more dehydrated than the average person. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to grab a cold drink.
While water is great, if you’ve been sweating a lot in the heat, it might be better to replace water with Gatorade or something similar. Why? Sports drinks contain sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, two minerals we tend to lose when we sweat a lot.
Without a good balance in your body, you can suffer from electrolyte disorder, which can lead to fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and, if not treated, could lead to seizures and even death.
You don’t need to only drink sports drinks, of course, but if you’re noticing that you’re sweating more than usual, it’s probably a good idea to keep one on hand. You’ll also want to stay away from caffeinated and alcoholic beverages as they are diuretics and can further dehydrate you.
While you might not always be able to avoid the 10am–3pm time slot, if you can, try to schedule your activities before or after those hours. Not only is this the hottest part of the day, it’s also when UVB rays are the strongest.
UVB rays can cause those serious burns which, in turn, can increase your risk of developing melanoma. And while you can treat your burns with some aloe vera gel, it won’t actually protect you from the heat or UVB rays.
If you do go out during these hours, make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
It’s also a great idea to wear a straw or mesh hat in the summer for extra sun protection. And while hats don’t necessarily cool down your core temperature, they can make your face and head feel cooler, which can impact your comfort level.
Unless you plan on spending all day indoors or outdoors, you’re likely traveling between the two extremes of hot outdoors and cold indoors. Layers can help you regulate your temperature better in both situations.
Additionally, choose natural fabrics like cotton for better airflow and lighter colors to avoid retaining too much heat.
If you want to cool down quickly after being out in the heat, a nice cool shower or bath can help bring down your body temperature. Of course, if you’re outside, taking a shower might not be an option.
If you want some quick relief from the heat, soak a small towel or cloth in cold water and wrap it around your neck or put it on your forehead to help cool you down. Not only will the cold water help your body feel comfortable, the resulting evaporation from the water on your body will also help dissipate heat.
Besides drinking cold water or sports drinks, eating cold food can help keep you cool on those sizzling days. Sure, there’s something to be said about a good barbeque, but when the scorching sun is beating overhead, you might want to reach for some cold snacks instead, such as:
All of these can help bring down your body temperature, at least temporarily. These cold dishes are perfect to cook during the summer as you generally won’t have to turn on your stove and heat up your home.
If you’re out and about in your neighborhood, a great way to cool off without going all the way back home is to just duck into a store.
Depending on where you live, you might have more options, but you can usually find a place to relax such as a library or even a grocery store. Sometimes just 10-15 minutes in a cooler place can help.
If you’re outdoors and there are no indoor spaces available, look for the nearest park or shaded area and take a breather. Oftentimes just sitting still in the shade can help you cool off.
What are some other ways you can keep cool in the summer heat? Are there some tips that we might have missed? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts!
Tags Healthy Aging