How Seniors Can Stay Cool in The Summer Heat



stay cool in heat

With record hot temperatures worldwide, the dangers from heat exposure are more prevalent than ever.

Seniors tend to be one of the more vulnerable populations when it comes to high heat. Many have pre-existing medical conditions that get exacerbated with the heat, take medications that make it difficult to deal with the heat and aren't able to adjust to the heat as quickly as others.

But with temperatures sweltering above 100 degrees throughout the country on any given day, we can't ignore the danger and have to find solutions.

Here are a few tips that can make all the difference:

Wear heat appropriate clothing:

  • Wear short sleeved shirts
  • Wear shorts
  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Wear a wide brimmed sun hat

Stay hydrated:

  • Drink more water than usual
  • Don't wait until your thirsty to drink

Keep your house cool:

  • Use air conditioning if you have it
  • Sleep with a fan on
  • Sleep with a light blanket or sheet
  • Keep your blinds down, to keep the sun's heat out
  • Open multiple windows at night to get a cross breeze
  • Avoid using the oven

Find some cool:

  • Take a cool shower or bath multiple times a day
  • Put a cool compress on your forehead
  • If you don't have air conditioning, move to an air conditioned environment during the day (e.g. the mall, public library, senior center, church/synagogue, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, friend's or family's house)
  • Walk on the shady side of the street

Slow down:

  • Avoid outdoor activities, even if it's just sitting in the sun
  • Avoid physical activity or exercising in the sun (avoid walking outdoors altogether or try walking before sunrise or after sunset)
  • If you feel like your pushing yourself, take a seat in the shade or an air conditioned environment

Protect yourself:

  • Wear sunscreen. Getting sunburned reduces your body's ability to cool down and can exacerbate dehydration. Get sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and make sure it has at least an SPF of 15 or higher. Re-apply throughout the day as needed.
  • Get a lift, if you need to go somewhere. Oftentimes buses and subways are not air conditioned. Moreover, waiting in the heat can also be dangerous.
  • Avoid crowded places when it's hot outside. Not only are crowds hotter, it makes it harder to find place to sit.
  • Have family and friends check up on you. Do the same for your family and friends.
  • Bring a phone or medical alert device with you in the event you need help (perhaps you need someone to come and pick you up, emergency services, etc...).
  • Before going outside, find out what the weather is. If there's a heat wave warning, stay indoors or find an air conditioned environment.

Watch What You Eat:

  • Avoid big or hot meals, they heat up your body!
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid caffeine, it's a diuretic, and exacerbates dehydration
  • Avoid very sugary drinks, again, it actually makes your body lose water
  • Drink cool, not cold liquids. Overly cold liquids can cause cramping
  • Replace your salts. When it's hot outside, you sweat more and lose much needed sodium.