By Phoebe LaMont, EI blogger

As we head into summertime and warmer weather, many people feel their spirits lifting as memories of snow and cold melt in the sunshine. However, hot weather poses risks, especially to children and those 65 and older. Dehydration, overheating, and sun exposure are all summertime dangers that older adults need to prepare for in order to safely enjoy the warmer months.

Dehydration is a threat all year long, but especially in the heat of summer. As we age, the body becomes less adept at retaining water and signaling the need for water. To maintain healthy levels of hydration, it’s important to regularly drink—water, preferably, and before thirst sets in. Excessively sugary, alcoholic, and caffeinated beverages can be dehydrating. Eating more soups, fruits, and vegetables are also effective methods of increasing hydration.

As the weather heats up both indoors and out, it is important to take measures to keep cool. Using an air conditioner is ideal, but in less extreme weather fans do an adequate job circulating air. Keeping windows open at night and curtains drawn during the day will help to cool down living spaces. If your living space cannot be kept cool enough during the day, try to spend time in cool public spaces such libraries or malls. State programs are also available to keep homes at comfortable temperatures.

Older adults tend to lose the ability to regulate temperature as effectively as they once did. Additionally, poor circulation can make one feel cold even in dangerously hot temperatures. This makes seniors even more susceptible to the onset of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Learn more about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses here.

While seniors benefit from the vitamin D produced from sunlight, they also face heightened dangers of skin damage from sun exposure. As we age, skin thins and becomes more vulnerable to both sunburn and skin cancer. Luckily, preventing sun damage can be as simple as wearing sunscreen, light clothing, and a hat. All skin benefits from protection, from dark to light.

As we head into the summer months, take care to protect yourself so you can enjoy all that summer has to offer!

Further Reading and Resources:

Low Income Energy Assistance Program

Aging Care – Protecting Seniors from Dangerous Summer Heat

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Heat and Older Adults

Health in Aging – Hot Weather Safety Tips for Older Adults