How to Enjoy the Summer Weather as a Senior
Summer brings sunshine and warmer temperatures, but especially for seniors, the sun and heat can pose special health risks. It’s important that you take extra precautions during the summer months to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses and injuries, especially if you’re coping with a chronic medical condition.
According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults are more susceptible to developing a number of health-related problems during extreme summer heat, including hyperthermia, heat fatigue and exhaustion, sudden dizziness, heat cramps and heat stroke. As you age, your body loses the ability to regulate body temperature, making it more difficult to maintain a normal temperature when exposed to hot weather.
The good news is that through awareness and prevention, you can have a healthy and active summer while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. Here are some tips to make sure you stay safe.
∫ Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and eat foods with high water content, like cucumbers, grapes and melons, to stay hydrated. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration, so even if you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
∫ Protect yourself from the sun. To reduce your risk of skin cancer, always apply sunscreen when outdoors, especially between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
∫ Be smart about outdoor activities. If you enjoy outdoor activities like walking or gardening, it’s important to wear proper clothing suitable for the temperature outside. You should consider doing these activities during early morning or late evening hours to avoid the sun when it’s at its peak.
∫ Take frequent breaks. If working outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning to cool down and rehydrate. Stay indoors on hot and humid days to avoid putting yourself at risk for heat stroke or heat exhaustion — two of the most serious heat-related illnesses for seniors.
If you think you may be experiencing any symptoms of heat-related issues, be sure to seek immediate medical attention.
Dr. Marylou Buyse is senior medical director of senior markets for Highmark Inc.