As we get older, our body’s ability to self-regulate body temperature becomes increasingly more difficult. This is especially true during these sweltering days. We become highly sensitive to the heat, which can have a significant and rapid impact on us.
Our inability to self-regulate temperature can result from several things, including psychological changes, illness, or medications. Unfortunately, our bodies just don’t function like they used to when we were younger. Some older adults even perspire less, which is vital to helping our bodies cool down on these very hot days.
As the country settles in for a scorching summer with several heat advisories issued across numerous regions, here are some heat safety tips for older adults.
1. Stay Inside
It sounds simple enough, but it can be difficult to do when everyone is running here and there. When the temperatures rise, the safest option for older adults is to stay indoors with the air conditioning running. However, if, for some reason, you do not have air conditioning, you should visit friends and family or seek shelter at a public place, such as a library or church. If the AC goes out, the temperatures in your house can rise rapidly, becoming dangerous and life-threatening.
2. Avoid Cold Showers
As much as it sounds like a nice refreshing reprieve from the heat, a cold shower will do more harm than good and possibly make you feel worse. When your body is shocked by an extreme temperature, such as a quick plunge in cold water, it overcompensates and conserves body heat. The frigid temperature decreases blood flow and makes it hard for your body to regulate its core temperature. A lukewarm shower will boost blood flow, helping cool your body off.
3. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
It’s essential to stay hydrated. However, drinks with caffeine and alcohol are diuretics and increase dehydration in the body. It’s best to avoid or at least limit to prevent dehydration.
4. Eat Smaller Portions
Chowing down on a large meal, especially one loaded with carbohydrates and protein, only produces more heat in your body. This is because your body must work harder to digest the foods. When it’s hot outside, it’s best to eat lighter meals.
5. Avoid Using Sources of Heat
Sounds obvious, but we’re not talking about your actual heat. We’re referring to the oven and even lamps or electronics that tend to be left running all day. These types of appliances and devices generate unwanted heat that could easily be avoided. Plus, to help keep the sun’s heat from streaming inside your house, keep your curtains and blinds closed. This will help keep the inside of your house cool and your AC from working so hard.
It’s important to follow these heat safety tips for older adults to help prevent becoming overheated or experiencing another heat-related illness. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can come on quickly and be extremely dangerous, especially for those who are older or ill. Take precautions and stay cool during these summer heat waves.