Beat The Heat!
There is no doubt about it, the summer heat is here. All across the country temperatures have been reaching record highs making it more important than ever to be smart about staying cool! According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), hot summer weather can pose significant risks to older adults. Common age-related changes such as decreased circulation, high blood pressure and the use of several medications make these hot summer months a potential health hazard.
While one may not be able to make changes to their current state of health, there are precautionary steps that may be taken to reduce the risk of a heat related illness.
1. Water Use: Not only is it a great idea to have a cool water bottle with you at all times, water may also be used in a spray bottle or spray fan to cool you down!
2. Limiting Sun Exposure: Take advantage of the long days and wake up early (when the day is cooler) to run your errands or take your daily walk.
3. Keeping Your Car Cool: Although they can be cumbersome, windshield reflectors are a great way to keep your car cool while it sits parked in the hot sun.
4. Closing The Blinds: In the morning, draw blinds and drapes so your apartment stays cooler.
Although all of these key points are tips and tricks we are very familiar with, our adherence to them may be less than regular. It is however far easier to prevent heat related illness than it is to treat heat related illness.
According to the American Geriatrics Society it is important to recognize the symptoms of a moderate heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion before it progresses to the more severe, and in turn often fatal heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: profuse sweating, malaise, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, chills, muscle or general weakness, tachycardia and hypotension, visual disturbances, and cutaneous flushing. If you experience these symptoms while exposed to higher than normal temperatures immediate steps should be taken to cool yourself down and reduce the likelihood of a progression into heat stroke.
When experiencing a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion consider the following recommendations from Mediline Plus a trusted resource for the National Institute on Health.
1. Change Your Environment: Get yourself to a cool place, if possible try and get to an air conditioned room or a location with access to a fan.
2. Elevate Your Feet: Elevate your feet about 12 inches to encourage increase blood-flow to the brain.
3. Apply Moisture: Apply cool, wet cloths (or cool water directly) to your skin and use a fan to lower body temperature. Place cold compresses on your neck, groin, and armpits.
4. Sip Cool Water: Slowly sip cool water at a rate of half a cup every 15 minutes. You may also make a salted drink by adding a teaspoon of salt per quart of water.
5. Decreasing Muscle Cramps: If you experience muscle cramps, drink beverages as above and massage affected muscles gently, until they relax.
6. Do NOT take any medications that are used to treat fever (such as aspirin or acetaminophen). They will not help, and they may be harmful.
7. Do NOT drink liquids that contain caffeine or alcohol.
There are so many reasons to celebrate summer including long beautiful days of gardening, swimming, walking, and of course spending time chasing the Grandchildren. Taking steps to reduce the severity of extreme sun-exposure will ensure that this remain a summer to celebrate!
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living