How to Beat the Heat Stroke – A Guide for Seniors
From Steve Johnson of Public Health Library
One of the most controversial debates in recent history has been over the topic of global warming. Regardless of whether or not you believe in climate change or global warming, there’s no denying that some areas have seen a relatively mild fall and winter. For the past few years, we have experienced a rise in record-breaking temperatures above and beyond anything previously recorded.
This temperature increase has led some individuals to worry about whether senior adults will be left vulnerable to heat stroke (or worse) on hot days. Age is a factor in many heat-related illnesses, this doesn’t mean seniors have to stay indoors or limit their enjoyable experiences. Although fall is officially upon us, the risk for heat stroke is still present. Seniors can enjoy the warm and cool combo without falling victim to the elements. Here are some tips for how to have a happy, healthy outdoor experience at any age:
Stay hydrated. Few seniors drink enough water each day, reaching instead for soda or tea. It also doesn’t help that as we age, physiological changes within the body can limit our ability to perceive thirst - and many medications can contribute to dehydration.
Beat the heat. Take care not to allow increased temperatures to shorten your life expectancy. Because every situation is different, seniors should talk to their doctors about how to protect their health. See how your medications might be affected by the heat. Ask whether any of your medications might put you at greater risk of dehydration, heart conditions, or overheating.
Consider your clothing. People of all ages should also take proper safety precautions before going outside. Always wear sunscreen, and consider wearing a hat. Keep in mind that although the temperature may be cool and the sun hidden behind clouds, UV rays are still shining, meaning you are still vulnerable to sunburn and heat stroke. Consider wearing light-colored cotton clothing, as the breathable fabric is more naturally cooling, and dress in layers so you can adjust your comfort level accordingly. Because harmful UV rays can damage your vision as well as your skin, it is important to wear UV protective sunglasses when outdoors.
Ask for help. It’s tempting to stay indoors to avoid the heat and the cold. Unfortunately, that leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation for many seniors. One solution is to ask for help from your loved ones. See if family and friends will stop by for extra visits or assist with grocery deliveries and other errands during the day.
Utilize local services. Check to see if your local area offers services assisting with tasks that are especially difficult for seniors, such as mowing the lawn or delivering groceries. If you’re a pet owner, you might also consider hiring a professional dog walker. These types of services can be literal life savers, allowing seniors to stay safe and cool indoors rather than going outside and risking exhaustion and overheating.
Thanks to the tips above, seniors don’t have to dread the warm temperatures. There’s no reason why people of any age can’t get outside and enjoy the fresh air. With your doctor’s blessing and some safety precautions, you can enjoy a safe and happy outdoor experience.
Steve Johnson is a health nut and wants to use his writing to make the world a healthier place. As co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary, Steve enjoys helping people find the health and medical information they need most.