It may be tempting to take advantage of the sunny, warm weather by relaxing in your favorite chair outside, it is important to remember the risks that the heat also brings. As the temperature and humidity rises, so does the risk of heat-related illnesses. Older adults are especially at risk for heat-related sicknesses such as: heat exhaustion, heatstroke, sunburns, and dehydration. This susceptibility is due in most part to the body’s decreased ability to recognize temperature change and thirst as we age. Also, heat-related illness can be further complicated by pre-existing heart, circulatory, and pulmonary conditions. So it is crucial to be very aware as you spend time outside during these high temperature days. To help you do that, we have compiled some hot tips to help you beat the heat and have it made in the shade.
1) Most importantly, remember to drink plenty of fluids before, while, and after going outside. The Mayo Clinic suggests that everyone should regularly drink eight-eight ounce servings of water over the course of the day. During hot weather they suggest increasing the amount by an extra three- eight ounce servings in order to make up for any fluids lost while sweating. Besides water, fruit and vegetable juice can be a great hydrator. Avoid caffeinated beverages, such as black tea and coffee as they act as dehydrators. So feel free to kick back with a nice glass (or two) of refreshing lemonade while enjoy the weather.
2) When selecting clothing to go outside, fabric and style matters. For style, choose looser fitting clothes that flare away from the body rather than more fitted styles that hold onto sweat. For fabric, choose lighter colored natural fabrics, such as cotton, over dark colored synthetic fabrics that do not reflect heat away from the body. By choosing these styles not only will you look ready for a trip to the beach, but also heat will more easily be able to escape from your body. This allows you to feel (and to look) cooler.
3) Grab your sunglasses and a hat to match before heading out. Besides looking super stylish, these items help to prevent the sensitive skin on your face from burning as well as protecting your eyes from the harsh sun’s rays. Still worried about your skin? Pick up a sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher for added protection. Also certain brands make sunscreen specifically formulated for your face that is gentler and less oily then regular sunscreen.
4) Remember to stay cool. Before and after going outside during those hot summer days, it is important to spend time in a cool room. There has been some debate over whether cooling a room with fans or air conditioning is better health wise for the user. Some people worry that air conditioners can pose health risks for older adults, because they can become contaminated by holding onto air impurities and recycling them through the air. Whereas, fans have no built in system filter system, which makes them less of a risk. It is true that air conditioners can become dirty through repeated use; however, as long as your unit has clean filters and an annual maintenance check to see that it is in good working condition, air conditioning is safe way to keep cool. Moreover, air conditioning helps to drastically reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses as it can regulate the temperature of a room more easily than a fan. To maximize your unit’s cooling effect, use both your fan and your air conditioner at the same time. Place portable fans around the room to help keep the cool air moving.