Just as PA winters can be brutal, our summers can be hot, hot, hot. And, no matter how active seniors are, their bodies just can’t handle the heat as well as they used to. According to AgingCare.com, about 400 Americans die from heat waves each year, and many of them are elderly. But, don’t worry, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself or your loved ones.
First, find some shade.
The first rule in protecting seniors from heat exhaustion is to avoid direct sunlight. This may seem self-explanatory, but with more and more seniors staying active longer, retirement communities are full of people walking, swimming and gardening, among other things. Make sure you do your outside activities in the early morning or later in the evening. Try to avoid direct contact with the sun during the hottest hours of the day—10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you must be outside, be sure to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Second, be sure to hydrate.
We all like to reach for a cool drink in the summer, but what you’re drinking is very important. Some of our favorite summer treats—like iced coffee, sodas and iced tea—are loaded with caffeine and/or sugar, which can be dehydrating. Try to stick with water if you can, or at least non-caffeinated drinks. Feel free to spice up your drinks with slices of fruit or mint. Also, be sure to keep some low-sugar Popsicles in the freezer. These will help hydrate, and cool you down on a hot day.
Third, cover up.
Remember to always wear sunscreen. Seniors should use sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and should have an SPF of 30 or more. Apply it at least 10 minutes before you go outside. Wear loose, light clothing and a ventilated wide-brim hat to shade your face.
Finally, be alert.
Looks for signs of heat exhaustion. These include profuse sweating, increased heartbeat, fatigue and/or headache, lower-than-normal blood pressure, blurred vision and more. Find tips here on how to respond if you or a senior loved one is exhibiting these signs.
Senior living communities in PA are fun, bustling places. Just be sure to protect yourself while you’re enjoying it all.