In reaction to the extreme hot weather, Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity said:
“We would recommend the elderly keep as cool and as hydrated as possible, and stay out of the heat and sun. We would also encourage friends and family to look in on their elderly neighbours, to ensure they have the support they need during the heat wave.”
While the summer may lift our spirits, older people can suffer adverse effects on their health during the hot weather and can be more vulnerable to illnesses such as heatstroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Changes in our bodies mean we’re less likely to notice when we feel hot, take longer to cool down and are less likely to feel thirsty.
Here are a few top tips for keeping cool in the sun. Some of them may just seem like common sense,but they can make a big difference to your wellbeing.
Drink more fluids than normal in hot weather. Have cool drinks like water and fruit juice and limit the amount of drinks with caffeine in them (tea, coffee, cola etc.).
Avoid alcohol as it can dehydrate you.
Many older people stop drinking from late afternoon to prevent having to get up in the night. Avoid doing this as you risk becoming dehydrated.
Try to eat cold foods, especially salads and fruits like watermelon as they contain a lot of water.
The symptoms of dehydration can include dizziness, thirst, headaches and tiredness. Ongoing dehydration can lead to urine infections, muscle damage, constipation and kidney stones.
Dress for the weather
Wear a hat and sunscreen of at least SPF 15 with four or five star UVA protection to protect your skin.
Apply sunscreen generously half an hour before going out and then again just before you go into the sun. Reapply it at least every two to three hours.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Choose a pair with a CE mark, UV400 label or statement that they provide 100% UV protection.
Loose-fitting, light coloured cotton clothes are best for staying cool in hot weather.
Know the facts about your medication
If you’re on medication that affects the amount of fluid you’re allowed to drink, then get advice from your GP on what to do in hot weather.
Some medication can affect your body temperature and your ability to cope in hot weather. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about how best to manage this.
Avoid too much activity, especially at the hottest times of the day (11am to 3pm). Save essential housework or gardening for early morning or late evening.
If you’re going out, take a bottle of water with you.
Taking a cool bath or shower, or just splashing cool water over your face and arms, will help you to cool down. A damp cloth on the back of your neck can help too.
Be prepared before hot weather arrives. Listen out for heatwave warnings on television and on the radio, or check the Met Office website.
Keep a thermometer in a commonly used room out of direct sunlight.
For more top tips on keeping cool during the heat wave, visit Independent Age’s website.
Featured image courtesy of Barry Haynes