Hot weather can increase everyone’s risk for heat exhaustion and dehydration, but it’s especially dangerous for seniors. Follow these simple tips to keep older adults safe and healthy during hot and humid weather:
One of the most important ways to stay healthy during the summer is to drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that contain a lot of water, such as fruits, vegetables, gelatin (Jell-O), and ice pops. Beware of coffee and alcohol, which can dehydrate the body of fluids.
Though your appetite may decrease in summer months, it is important to continue to eat well. Be sure your daily meals contain lean protein (like chicken without skin or fish) and carbohydrates (such as vegetables and whole grains). Eat small, frequent meals to keep up your strength.
Take frequent cool (not cold!) baths and showers to keep your body temperature from rising too high. Be sure that the bathtub has a slip-resistant mat or safety bars to prevent slips and falls.
For elderly people who live alone, regular home visits offer welcome companionship when a heat wave keeps you inside. A home health aide can also provide peace of mind for family members.
The hottest time of the day is between 10 AM and 2 PM. Avoid cooking and try to stay inside during these hours. If you must leave the house during a heat wave, wear loose, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Always keep a fresh bottle of water in the refrigerator and bring it with you when you leave the house.
Visit your local library, shopping center, movie theater, community center, or anyplace with air conditioning. Make sure you can get to important places like the police station, fire station, pharmacy and hospital, in case of an emergency. For more about Staying Hydrated, see “Are You Drinking Enough Water?”