Seniors, more than any other age group, are more susceptible to the elements. During the summer months, “the elements” means heat – often extreme heat. Seniors are more sensitive to shifts in temperature, and are less-equipped to self-regulate. This can lead to dangerous health problems. Here are some ways seniors can stay cool and enjoy the summer.
If you don’t have air conditioning…
Not every senior has air conditioning, and even those that do may have a fixed income to worry about and may choose to try to save money by not using their AC as much. If you’re trying to stay cool inside your home without AC, there are some tips and tricks you should know.
You should certainly make use of fans, as they use way less electricity than an AC unit. Fans don’t make the house cooler, but they do help air move around which can have a cooling effect on the body. Set up multiple fans to provide a cross breeze in your living quarters. If you want to chill the air even more, try putting a bowl of ice in the path of the breeze. It works!
A good amount of heat enters the home via sunlight through windows, so investing in good blinds or blackout curtains is a good idea. Also, you should close off doors to unused rooms so that the rooms you do cool with fans don’t lose energy to the unused portions of your home. While you can’t always cool your home, you can always cool your own body. Take cool baths if you’re feeling too hot, or at least dip your extremities in cool water. Place damp towels in the fridge and use them to cool your neck and head. Try to wear clothing that is breathable. And if you live with a four-legged buddy, be sure to keep an eye on them as well. Dogs can get heat stroke, too. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms, such as panting heavily, drooling, or looking unsteady, it’s time to take them to the vet.
Stay indoors during heat waves
If it’s simply too hot outside for you to handle – don’t risk it! Stay indoors where it’s cooler. If you have outdoor responsibilities that you must get done like walking your dog or mowing the lawn, consider hiring someone to help or call a friend. The best way to avoid the elements (especially when the elements are at their peak level of extreme) is to stay out of the elements. It’s that simple.
Always stay hydrated
Your body needs hydration to regulate its temperature, so drinking enough water during the hot summer months is a must. Water is your best bet, and you should shoot for about 8 ounces every hour you’re outside. If you start to feel thirsty, you’re already feeling the effects of dehydration so you should drink water even when you’re not particularly thirsty. You can boost your hydration by eating foods that are high in water content like strawberries, celery, cucumbers, and watermelon. You can also help yourself by avoiding dehydrating beverages like coffee (caffeine) and beer or wine (alcohol).
There’s a difference between being hot and being overheated to the point of danger. The first is unavoidable during the summer months, and the latter is something that you can watch out for and avoid. Seniors should always be cognizant of what their bodies are telling them. Heat stroke can happen quickly in anyone – but especially fast among seniors. Do what you can to keep your home cool, stay inside during periods of extreme heat, and always stay hydrated.
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