The summer season, while enjoyable, can be a particularly tasking time for the older population. This is due to their weakened immune systems that decelerate their bodies normal cooling mechanism, hence leaving them more prone to heat sensitivity and heat-related illnesses. In light of these issues, the following summer survival tips for elders can guarantee an enjoyable summer for the senior population:
Appropriate hydration is particularly important for the elderly due to their reduced water conservation abilities, making them more prone to dehydration. However, very cold drinks should be avoided to avoid stomach cramps, along with caffeinated and fizzy beverages, as they contribute towards dehydration. Note that those taking water pills (diuretics) should consult with their doctors on adequate daily water intake.
2- Check Your Medication
While antibiotics and diuretics can block the body’s heat coping mechanism, high temperatures can also reduce the effectiveness of certain medicines, hence worsening the condition in case of a heat-related problem. Therefore, make sure to consult with your doctor on the heat-related side-effects and alternatives of your medications, if any.
3- Wear Sunglasses
Since eye sensitivity increases with age, wear UVA/UVB blocking sunglasses when venturing outdoors to avoid eye irritation, sun-related conditions such as cataracts, or further aggravation in case of an already-present ocular (eye) condition.
4- Inside Is Best
Stay indoors in cool areas, preferably in air-conditioned rooms, between midday to late evening to reduce the likelihood of heat-caused medical conditions resulting from an age-related decrease in heat sensitivity. However, if you must go outside, remember to wear broad spectrum sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats to minimize sunlight exposure.
5- Cool Bathing
Although it may be difficult for some individuals, showering with lukewarm instead of hot water whenever you feel hot is recommended as it helps regulate the body’s temperature. Alternatively, you can also place cool, wet washcloths or towels over the neck, wrists, armpits, and ankles for an instant cooling effect.
6- Wear according to the weather
As people age, they generally feel lesser heat from the surroundings. Consequently, they may overdress. One can always help their elderly to dress appropriately for the weather. Clothing made of natural cotton is suggested as it lets air pass through it easily. Another trick is to avoid dark shades, such as black and brown, that absorb heat rather than reflecting it. They also help keep the body temperature normal.
7- Don’t overdo things
On hot, humid days, day to day outdoor activities like household chores, gardening, or some other exhausting activities can be more tiring than usual. You should not overexert yourself and it is highly recommended to take rest breaks, and have a steady intake of fluids, such as water and fruit juices.
Elderly are prone to problems due to hot weather. The temperature does not have to be that high for signs of heat-related illness to kick in.
Headaches, heat exhaustion and even heat strokes, that are especially critical for people over the age of 50, requiring instant medical treatment, are all included in these illnesses. They are altogether named hyperthermia.
8- Cool your home
The fear of a huge power bill causes most elderly to use air conditioners and fans intermittently. An affordable option can be ceiling fans, as they only cost three cents an hour when operating, according to Beacon Lighting. It is also recommended to have secure windows open at night, to have cross ventilation through the house.
Moreover, when unprotected from direct sun light, and even during the hottest parts of the day, all curtains, shutters and blinds should be drawn. If one does not have the facility of air conditioning then they should stay in the lower portion of the house, as heat rises.
9- A Rug-Free Home
Rugs and carpets may appear fluffy and comfortable, but they pose a variety of health risks. Therefore, removing them during summer not only keeps the floor, and resultantly, the entire house cooler, but general rug removal also reduces chances of trips and fractures in patients with motor (movement-related) conditions, along with allergies arising from dust accumulated between a rug’s fibers.
10- Know Thyself
The elderly are comparatively more susceptible to disabling or possibly fatal heat-related conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Therefore, elderly individuals and their families alike must learn to spot the following signs along with emergency measures for these conditions:
Heat Stroke (A Serious Heat Illness)
- Body temperature higher than 103 degrees within 10-15 minutes (hyperthermia)
- Dizziness, nausea, and throbbing headaches
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- No sweating
- Rapid pulse
Heat Exhaustion (A Milder Version of Heat Stroke)
- Profuse sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headaches and fainting
- Fast and weak pulse and breathing
- Cool and moist skin
- Muscle cramps
If you observe any of these signs, get the affected individual to a cooler place, lay them down, place ice packs all over instead of giving them something to drink, and call for immediate medical assistance. You can also consult with a top General Physician in Karachi, Multan and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your health-related concerns.