PLYMOUTH — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and injuries. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at regulating temperature because older adults don’t sweat as much as younger adults, and sweat is the body’s most important heat-regulating mechanism. Older people also store fat differently, which can make it more difficult to regulate heat in the body.
This can cause problems in the summer, because when the outside temperature rises, the internal body temperature also rises. This is why older people suffer from heatstroke more often in summer than younger people.
Therefore, the elderly pose health risks that need to be monitored, especially in the heat of summer. Below are tips for keeping seniors safe and healthy during the rising temperatures of the summer months.
Drink at least eight glasses of water and/or fruit juice each day to stay hydrated. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages such as sodas, coffee, and tea, as they can dehydrate you quickly. Increase your intake if you are physically active or if it is particularly hot.
Stay indoors during extreme heat
In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation slows and the body has to work very hard to maintain a normal temperature. Keep in mind that the sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can, limit your outdoor activity to the morning and evening.
Stay in an air-conditioned place
Air conditioning is important when it is hot and humid outside. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go somewhere that does. A movie theater, the mall, a friend or family member’s house, or a seniors’ community center are all good options. You can contact your local aging agency to help you find a local cooling center for long periods of extreme heat.
Know the weather and dress accordingly
The best clothes to wear in the summer are loose, lightweight clothes in natural, breathable fabrics like cotton. Dress in light colors that will reflect the sun and heat instead of darker colors that will attract them.
Protect your skin and eyes
Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and protect your vision. When you’re outdoors, protect your skin from damage by wearing hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Know the side effects of your prescriptions
Certain medications can increase sensitivity to the sun. Review your medications and discuss with your doctor any concerns or questions you may have.
Know the early signs of heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, hyperthermia, etc.
Signs to look for may include disorientation, dry skin, excessive fatigue, headache, lethargy, nausea, facial flushing, elevated body temperature, rapid pulse, dizziness, and confusion. Take immediate action if you experience symptoms.
Maintain communication with friends, family, caregivers and emergency contacts.
Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and put them in an easy-to-reach place if needed.
As a caregiver or loved one, you can help seniors beat the heat by:
• Visit at least twice a day.
• Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
• Make sure they have access to air conditioning.
• Help them limit their exposure to the sun.
• Make sure they get enough fluids to stay hydrated and have a normal body temperature.
Ask-A-Nurse by Pemi-Baker: A collaboration with the Grafton County Senior Citizens Council.
If you have questions or need a place to cool off, why not visit your local senior center? In addition to the virtual and in-person activities and meals offered by GCSCC’s eight senior centers, three host Pemi-Baker Hospice and Home Health’s “Ask-A-Nurse” program. This is a free service run by a Pemi-Baker Registered Nurse and/or Social Worker where you can have your blood pressure checked, ask medical questions, fill out our advance directive forms, or just drop by and say hello. .
Ask-A-Nurse Days and Times:
Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center, 8 Depot Street, Plymouth
Wednesdays 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lin-wood Area Services, 194 Pollard Road, Lincoln
Every third Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Littleton Area Senior Center, 77 Riverglen Lane, Littleton
With more than 55 years of experience, serving clients in 29 towns in central and northern New Hampshire, Pemi-Baker Hospice & Home Health is committed to creating healthier communities. Services include home health care, palliative care, and community programs including: American Red Cross CPR/AED/FA, caregiver support groups, and bereavement support groups. Providing compassionate care with experienced staff who are professionally trained and certified in the business because of their hearts. When needed, we are where you need us.
Pemi-Baker is located at 101 Boulder Point Drive, Suite 3, Plymouth. For more information, call 603-536-2232 or email: [email protected]