With temperatures soaring over the summer months, seniors are at increased risk of dehydration, sunburns and serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors have more difficulty in dealing with high summer temperatures, mostly due to chronic medical conditions or medications that interfere with their body’s ability to cool down or sweat.
CalOptima, the health insurance provider for thousands of adults and children throughout Orange County – offers a few helpful tips to ensure that seniors enjoy a safe summer:
Drink plenty of liquids, even when not thirsty: Drink eight or more 8-ounce glasses of water and/or low sugar fruit juices each day to stay hydrated. In addition, the CDC cautioned against consuming coffee or alcohol in high temperatures, as these beverages can dehydrate people very quickly.
Dress appropriately: Wear loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics like cotton that feel more breathable and comfortable. Light-colored clothing will attract less sunlight, versus dark colors that absorb sunlight.
Use sunblock: Avoiding sunburns is essential to beating the heat in the summer. The CDC points out that as adults age, their skin often becomes thinner and more susceptible to burns. When outdoors, seniors should protect their skin from damage by wearing hats, sunglasses, and a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher no matter your skin tone or color.
Stay indoors during extreme heat: In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work harder to maintain a normal temperature. If seniors need to leave their homes, they might want to avoid driving. Instead, they should call a taxi, a friend, or a transportation service (e.g., Uber or Lyft). Under no circumstances should seniors wait outside for the bus in extreme heat.
Find air conditioning: For seniors whose home does not have air conditioning, they should go somewhere that does, such as a movie theater, the mall, a friend or relative’s home, or a community senior center.
Recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses: Seniors should know the symptoms for heat stress, which include muscle cramps, exhaustion, dizziness, vomiting and paleness. If experiencing heat stroke, older adults may notice their skin is red and hot, a rapid pulse rate, and a high body temperature of more than 103 degrees.
Extreme heat can be dangerous for seniors. Seniors who experience any heat related symptoms (from dizziness and headaches to flushed skin) should seek help from their healthcare provider immediately.