The elderly are far more susceptible to the heat than most people and can easily suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or heat rashes. The effect of heat-related illnesses differs from person to person, but symptoms of heat stroke can be life threatening for the elderly, so it’s important to know how to keep cool.
Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
It’s easier for the elderly to overheat and suffer from heat stroke because their bodies cannot adjust as easily to high temperatures as younger people. So, the elderly need to be extra careful in the hot weather, otherwise they may experience any or all of the following symptoms.
Heat rash – if your body is showing signs of irritation from the heat of a hot day, including redness, red spots, or blisters due to excessive sweating, you could be suffering from heat rash.
Heat stress – this includes symptoms such as headaches, faintness, and feeling sick.
Heat exhaustion – if you are lacking coordination or experiencing severe dizziness and weakness, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion.
Heat stroke – this can potentially be a life-threatening result of the hot weather and should always be dealt with by a professional. People suffering from heat stroke can behave strangely, become confused, and even experience seizures in extreme cases.
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know is experiencing or showing any of the above signs or symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, it is essential you call the emergency services as soon as possible.
Wear Sunglasses Outside
Although it is best to avoid going outside for long periods of time on especially hot days, if you do wander outside, it is important to wear sunglasses. Older eyes tend to take longer to adjust to changes in light levels, such as going from light to dark, so wearing sunglasses can help ease the transition.
Avoid Activity at Certain Times
If you enjoy getting outside and enjoying the sunshine, even on particularly hot days, it is best to avoid the hottest part of the day which tends to be around 11am-3pm. Heading out either side of these times, the weather is likely to be slightly cooler.
Wear Loose Clothing
Wearing the appropriate clothing can have a significant effect on how well you cope with hot weather. It is best to avoid synthetic fabrics that often keep the body warm, and instead aim to wear light-weight cottons to keep you cool. Loose fitting cotton clothes are also ideal because they help to reduce skin irritation that is caused by over-heating.
Buy a Fan or Air Conditioning Unit
A great way to combat excessive heat during the day – even inside your home – is to buy a fan or an air conditioning unit. A good place to prioritise putting the fan or air conditioning unit is in the bedroom as disturbed sleep during the summer is common and can lead to sleep deprivation and a significant lack of energy. Sleeping with a fan or air conditioning unit will help keep everything cool.
It is Important to Know Your Body
Know your body’s limitations. If you feel like the day’s activities have been too much for you, sit down and rest. What’s more, if the weather is very sunny and hot, be sure to check with your doctor regarding your medications as certain medicines can be affected by higher temperatures and knowing this may help prevent an unnecessary accident.
Stay Hydrated on Hot Days
Definitely the most important thing on this list; staying hydrated! It is far easier than you think to become dehydrated on a hot summer day, so it is crucial you pay attention to how much you drink. If you know you struggle drinking water, try adding some fresh fruit slices to flavour the water or drink watered down juice. It is important you drink as much water as you can on hot days to avoid dehydration and heat stroke.
Stay Cool with Frozen Snacks
A great way to stay cool on hot days is to enjoy eating frozen snacks such as popsicles, frozen berries, or other sugary treats. If you’re being mindful of your sugar intake, try sugar-free popsicles or fresh fruit frozen in ice cube or ice lolly trays. There are so many alternatives you can try, and they will certainly help keep you cool.
Stay in the Shade
As much as possible, it is important to stay in the shade so you aren’t exposed to the unforgiving rays of the sun during the summer. However, this advice doesn’t just cover keeping your body cool while you’re outside, it is also relevant to keeping your home cool. You can keep your house cool and in the shade by keeping the curtains drawn – it really is surprising just how much heat build-up is avoided by simply closing the curtains.
All the advice written here is a basic guideline and should by no means be taken as firm medical advice. Rather, it is important you seek the advice of a professional if you feel you are suffering in the hot weather. If you are simply seeking advice on how to cope better during the summer, we hope this article has provided you with some useful tips and tricks to keep you cool!