There’s been a “mega heatwave” in the western areas of the United States (e.g. Arizona, California, Utah, Wyoming) recently. This has caused planes to be grounded, people to stay indoors, and a rise in health-related illnesses such as dehydration.
Unfortunately, the older you get the less you realize how hot it is because your body isn’t as hydrated so it doesn’t sweat as much. Nevertheless, people over 65 make up 36% of heat-related deaths because heat is more of a threat to them. This is because many of them have health conditions (e.g. heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes) that make them more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Many of the medications that are used to stay healthy also make it more difficult for people to cool off.
Since this heatwave isn’t even coming in the middle of the summer, some people are concerned. They believe this is something we’re going to have to get accustomed to.
Things to Watch Out For
Things like heatstroke and dehydration make it very challenging to stay healthy when it’s so hot outside. This is why you should listen to your body when it starts feeling sluggish, light-headed, nauseous, or dizzy. When this happens you should get into the shade or air conditioning. If you’re wearing a mask because of COVID you should take it off so you can breathe better. While these things should help you feel better, if they don’t you should seek medical attention.
One of the most serious problems the elderly face is dehydration. It’s very important to maintain fluid intake. The best way of doing this is to drink a full glass of water when you take pills. While outdoors you shouldn’t wait for dehydration to set in before you start drinking water. In fact, men should drink 15 cups of water each day while women should drink 11 cups. Another way of encouraging yourself to meet this goal is to use smaller cups.
The best thing you can do if you’re going to be outside during hot weather is to prepare to stay healthy and avoid dehydration. This means wearing thin layers of light-colored clothing that you can easily take off. You should also seek shade or air conditioning after 15 minutes.
Tips for Helping Older Adults Stay Healthy in the Heat
Another way to stay healthy in this heat is to avoid sunburn. This is especially important for the elderly because they’re more prone to developing skin cancer. Therefore it’s important to not only wear a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection but to also don a broad-rimmed hat and sunglasses. Doing so will help you stay healthy and ensure that you don’t develop a heat rash. You should also do your best to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that’s made of breathable material.
On the days when it’s really hot, you should stay inside with the air conditioning to ensure that you stay healthy. For homes that don’t have air conditioning, you should check to see if there’s a cooling center available. If you can’t afford to run your air conditioning inquire about a low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP) in your area.
Consider going swimming or floating around in a pool or a lake. If that isn’t an option for you, try taking a cool shower or using your lawn sprinkler to cool off.
Look for Shade
Instead of taking a walk on a sunny path, consider going for a walk in the woods or doing some gardening in a shady area. If you need to run errands consider doing them either early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t so hot and more shade is available.
To avoid dehydration you should sip on water throughout the day. This becomes even more important as you grow older because you won’t be able to tell when you’re thirsty as easily. To make the water more inviting consider flavoring it with fruits and vegetables – especially those with a higher water content like grapes, watermelon, and cucumbers. You can also carry around a reusable water bottle so you can take a sip while you’re on the go.
Another important part of keeping yourself healthy this summer has to do with taking care of your hearing. For this, you should turn to the professionals at Countryside Hering Aids Services in Clearwater and Pinellas County for all the help you need.
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