As many of us look to cooler fall temperatures for some relief, hot weather is likely to stick around through at least the first part of September. If you felt that the summer heat this year was extreme, you’re not alone. NASA scientists reported that July 2023 was the hottest month since at least 1880 and estimate that 2023 will be the warmest year on record.
Heat affects all of us but especially seniors who are more susceptible to extreme weather. As we age, our body responds to weather changes differently. Seniors are more likely than others to suffer from heat stroke, dehydration, heat rash and other ailments.
With at least a few weeks of hot weather remaining in Severna Park, it’s important for seniors, their caregivers and loved ones to remain vigilant about the heat. What can you do?
Three keys to senior health and safety during hot weather include hydration, body temperature control and nutrition.
Hydration is crucial for everyone, and this is especially true for seniors because water is essential for various bodily functions, including digestion, circulation and temperature regulation. Dehydration can negatively impact cognitive function. Encourage seniors to consume an ample amount of water throughout the day. Herbal teas, diluted fruit juices and clear soups can also contribute to daily fluid intake. Due to decreased thirst perception, seniors may forget to drink water regularly. Set reminders or use smartphone apps to establish a water consumption routine.
Helping seniors maintain appropriate body temperature is also important. Ensure that seniors have a comfortable and cool place to relax and be active when the thermostat rises. Stay indoors between 10:00am and 4:00pm to avoid the hottest temperatures and exposure to the sun. Clothing matters too. Seniors should wear light fabrics and loose-fitting clothing to allow more air flow around their body and to assist their body’s natural cooling processes.
Nutrition is another key to bolstering senior health during hot weather. Avoid food that is high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol and beverages that can dehydrate you, such as alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Instead, prioritize more fresh fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and nutrients in fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation, combat cell damage and improve circulation. Also consider produce with high water content, such as watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumbers to aid in hydration.
It will still feel like summer for the next few weeks, so remember to check in with your senior loved ones and make sure they’re staying safe during these hot days.
Maresa Henry is the executive director of Spring Arbor of Severna Park, a local assisted living and memory care community. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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