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Beat the Heat: Summer Tips for Seniors

By Allen Riggs

(Page 2 of 2)

4. Drink plenty of replenishing fluids

Alcoholic beverages and caffeine should be avoided since they can cause dehydration. Water is a great option, but does not effectively replace the potassium and sodium (electrolytes) that we lose when perspiring. Popular “sports drinks” such as Gatorade, Powerade and/or inexpensive homemade substitutes (see recipe below) are great choices for rehydrating the body.

Rehydration drink*

Measure all ingredients precisely. Small variations can make the drink less effective or even harmful. Mix the following:

  • 1 quart (950 ml) water

  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) table salt

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 g) sugar

  • If available, ¼ teaspoon (1.25 g) salt substitute (such as “Lite Salt”)

* Do not give this homemade drink to children under age 12.


Potential symptoms

Always be on guard for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include pale, cold or clammy skin, extreme thirst, light-headedness, fainting, mild nausea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. Signs of heat stroke include hot, dry skin, a fast, strong pulse, confusion, and a body temperature of 104 degrees or higher. If a person exhibits signs of heat stroke, this is a serious medical emergency and 911 or your local emergency medical team should be contacted.

The good news is heat-related illnesses and injuries are preventable. If you understand the signs and watch out for the symptoms, you too can beat the heat this summer season.

Allen Riggs is a Director of First Light Home Care, which provides quality, affordable, non-medical in-home care for seniors, mothers just home from the hospital, those recovering from surgery and other clients with need for companionship and / or personal care. Allen was an invited delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 2005.

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