Some Special Advice for the Elderly in this Hot Weather
Summer has arrived! After a largely grey spring, many of us will be delighted to see that the sun has finally come out. But while temperatures in the early 20s might be a treat for most of us, with temperatures in the late 20s and even early 30s become more frequent, summer can be simply too hot for many. And, for those of advancing years, sometimes, it can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Why are the elderly more vulnerable to the heat?
It’s more difficult for the elderly to say cool in high temperatures because their bodies are not able to adjust to the heat as well as younger bodies are, potentially leading to overheating and heatstroke. They’re also more likely to become dehydrated, which increases the risks substantially. Chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can also impair their body’s ability to regulate temperature and even prevent sweating.
So, what can you do to keep cool, calm and comfortable this summer? Here’s some advice for the elderly in the hot weather keep cool and cope with it.
- Keep your home as cool as possible
When it’s really hot outside, you can keep your home cool by closing the windows and pulling down the shades during the hottest part of the day. If possible, you should also use shades or reflective material on the outside of the windows. If not, keeping light-coloured curtains closed will help to keep the room cool. Shutting dark curtains and metallic blinds will have the opposite effect and actually make the room warmer.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day
Another essential piece of advice for elderly in the hot weather – stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. If you do need to go out, do so either before 11am or after 3pm. However, on really hot days, it can still be very warm up to 6pm and even after, so when you need to nip out to the shops or prune the hedges, make sure to be speedy and keep hydrated!
- Identify the coolest part of your home
Many homes have a room that’s shaded from the sun and stays cooler than the rest of the property. This could be the spare bedroom, kitchen or living room where it always seems magically cooler than the other places in your house! This a great place to retreat to and avoid the heat of the day.
- Avoid cooking
The last thing you want to do on a hot day is put the oven on. Rather than eating heavy, hot food, opt for light, cold meals like chicken or pasta salad. If you do need to cook, use the microwave or grill if you can.
- Stay hydrated
And of course, drink plenty of fluids. Water, tea, coffee and low-fat milk are all good options. This is one of the most effective ways for people to stay cool but it is often forgotten or done too late, so make sure to have a glass of water by your side!
- Use your ceiling fan the right way
If you can change the direction of your ceiling fan, make sure it rotates in an anticlockwise direction during the summer months, which will force air down to make you feel cooler. This is both great advice for the elderly in hot weather and also a life hack most people do not know about.
- Counteract swollen feet and ankles
Heat edema is the name given to swollen ankles in hot weather. As we age, our circulation becomes slower, which makes it easier for fluids to pool in the lower limbs. This is exacerbated in the summer, as our veins dilate naturally to try and keep us cool, allowing fluids to leak into the surrounding tissue. Elevating your feet, staying hydrated and wearing support tights and compression socks all help to counteract swollen ankles in hot weather.
- Dress for the weather
Wear loose, lightweight and light-coloured clothing so you can easily add or remove layers throughout the day to adjust to the temperature. Most people find natural fabrics, such as cotton, cooler than synthetic fibres.
- Keep cool overnight
Sleeping in hot weather can be particularly problematic for the elderly. Placing a flannel on your neck and keeping a pan of cool water next to your bed so you can re-cool the towel will really help.
Understand the signs of overheating
As well as advice for the elderly in hot weather, it’s also very important that you understand the signs of overheating. If you or an elderly relative or friend experiences any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical help:
- Chest pain