Summer is many things – sunny, exciting, fun-filled – but it’s also undoubtedly hot. And believe it or not, the way our bodies age can make us more vulnerable to the effects of heat. The good news is that there are things you can do to mitigate those issues and get back to enjoying this time of year. Learn some summer health tips for seniors and you’ll be having fun in the sun again before you know it.
Summer Health Tips for Seniors
You’re probably aware that seniors are at a heightened risk for heat-related illness. As we age, our skin becomes more delicate, and hormonal changes make it more difficult for our bodies to manage our internal temperatures. Seniors also tend to have less water in their systems than younger people, making them more prone to dehydration. These issues are often exacerbated by things like medication side effects.
All that said, there are mental, emotional, and physical benefits to enjoying outdoor activities in the summer. Follow these simple summer health tips for seniors to beat the heat.
Dehydration is an ongoing battle for many seniors. Summer makes this even more difficult, as you’ll often find yourself sweating out water more quickly than you can drink it. Make a plan to stay hydrated.
- Did you know that seniors should be drinking 1.7 liters of water a day? More than this might be necessary to stay hydrated during the summer, so plan ahead. Be sure to carry a liter water bottle and refill it frequently.
- Drink lots of clear liquids and eat fruits, vegetables, and other foods that contain water.
- On days you’ll be especially active, consider drinking a sports drink to replenish electrolytes and other nutrients lost via sweat.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, or consume them in moderation, as they can cause further dehydration issues.
Excessive sweating occurs when your body is unable to regulate its temperature back down to a cool, comfortable level. Give your body a little extra help by seeking out opportunities to rest in cool spaces.
- Take breaks from outdoor activities and rest in places with air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, consider visiting the library or another air-conditioned public space during the hottest times of day.
- If you overheat, take a tepid bath or put a cool pack on your forehead.
- Eating and drinking cool things can also help you regulate your temperature. Why not treat yourself to an ice cream next time you’re out and about?
Be Sun Smart
Many seniors don’t take adequate steps to protect themselves from the sun. Don’t be one of them!
- Wear an SPF 30 sunscreen every day. Be sure to apply it to your scalp and hairline as well as other areas where skin is especially sensitive. Reapply every two hours if you are sweating excessively.
- A good sunhat can be a senior’s best friend. Buy a hat with a wide, all-over brim for maximum coverage. Many sunhats have an SPF rating listed right on their tag.
- Dress for the sun. Long sleeves and pants may not seem like an ideal summer wardrobe, but they’ll protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. Wear lightweight, tightly woven fabric like cotton for more sun protection. Light colors will reflect UV rays instead of absorbing them, which will help you keep your temperature down.
- If possible, plan activities to take place before 10 am or after 4 pm to avoid maximum sun exposure.
Follow these summer health tips for seniors and you can keep enjoying the season. If you have further concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor about how to stay comfortable in high temperatures.
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