Tips to Beat the Hot Summer Heat
Aging Matters

The heat of summer is a grave risk for older adults. The National Safety Council gives easy to apply guidelines to outsmart the heat when the thermometer rises. Their advice offsets the serious health risks that adults with chronic medical conditions encounter.

What factors directly affect the risks? Some include lack of fluids, the absence of cold air-conditioning, excessive clothing, overcrowded places, and physical inactivity, and access to transportation.

What can people do to avoid the risks of heat and humidity? The Council suggests, wear appropriate clothing, put on a wide-brimmed hat, take frequent water breaks, apply sunscreen, and never leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle. Older adults need to remain indoors where it's cool.

And if you're under or overweight or drinking alcoholic beverages, could make you vulnerable to heat-induced illnesses. So, keep a watchful eye on severe cramping, nausea, headache, extreme thirst, weakness, dizziness, and confusion.

Beat the heat with these tips from

Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The following tips can help you keep cool.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
  • Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.
  • Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, over-tired feet.
  • Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.
  • Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.
  • Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.
  • Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attach to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.
  • If you're wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice-cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.
  • Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer meal including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low-fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won't have to cook next to a hot stove.
  • If you don't have air-conditioning, spend a part of the day at the shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool.
  • Use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces.

Carol Marak, aging advocate and editor at She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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