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Beat the Heat: Summer Tips for Seniors

By Allen Riggs

(Page 1 of 2)

Every summer, thousands of Americans suffer from heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration. And each year, an average of 300 people in the United States dies from heat-related illnesses, according to reports from the Center for Disease Control.

Seniors are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses as their bodies do not effectively cool down and it takes longer to recover when they get overheated. As the temperature starts to rise, it is important to take a moment to think about ways to beat the heat and avoid unnecessary illness.

Below are five customized tips that can help you or someone you love battle the heat, sun and humidity, which are unavoidable throughout the summer months:

1. Check homes for proper ventilation

Excessive heat, when temperatures and humidity reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, can be dangerous, especially to those who are home without air conditioners or fans. Many seniors will sacrifice a cool breeze from an open window due to security concerns. Inexpensive safety latches are available for windows that allow the air to circulate, but also prevent the window from being completely opened from the outside. Check with your local hardware store for options.

2. Seek relief from the heat in public buildings that are air-conditioned

Not every senior has air conditioning in their home and there is a point at which fans canít combat the summer heat. When this occurs, visit public places such as local shopping malls, libraries, restaurants, or visit with friends or family for a welcome break from the heat.

Beware of medications and/or senior diets that can increase risk. Hot weather can accelerate dehydration, especially in people who are taking medications that have the side effects of fluid and electrolyte loss. Many medications, particularly antibiotics and diuretics, can block the bodyís natural ability to cope with the sun and heat. You should always check with a pharmacist or doctor to ensure that medications will not cause you or your loved ones to be more susceptible to heat-related problems. Also, if seniors are on a low carbohydrate diet, be sure they drink plenty of fluids, as the additional proteins in this diet can cause the body to heat up more quickly.

3. Plan ahead for outdoor activities

During hot weather, everyone, especially seniors, should wear loose fitting, cool, light-colored clothing, and a hat or cap. Whenever possible, try to stay in the shade and be sure to use a high SPF sun block (30+) in order to protect a seniorís sensitive skin.

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