Blog Post 2016

Seniors with a health condition: Beating the summer heat

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By VHA
Elderly woman drinking water from a glass

While most of us look forward to the warm summer months, the extreme heat can be dangerous. Each summer, hundreds of Canadians are hospitalized for dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other potentially serious conditions. This can be a real worry for long-distance caregivers with parents living in a space that’s not air-conditioned.

Here are some easy and affordable tips to help stay cool, comfortable and safe as the temperature rises. Follow them yourself or pass on to loved ones and neighbours when the temperature starts to rise.

 

Hot Tips on Staying Cool

Drink water: In the summer, it’s especially critical to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Keep bottles of water in the freezer for activities on the go. As the ice melts, you’ll have a refreshing supply of cold water throughout the day. Avoid or limit coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine and other caffeinated or alcoholic drinks as they can be dehydrating.

Keep rooms cool: In the morning, close windows and draw blinds or drapes to keep your house or apartment darker and cooler throughout the day. Venetian blinds can be angled upwards to reflect light up and into the room while blocking the sun’s direct rays. In the cooler evening hours, open as many screened windows and doors as possible to cool off the entire house or apartment.

Turn it off: Lights, computers and other electronic equipment can give off significant heat. Keep these items turned off whenever possible.

Use fans: Fans are a great way to circulate cooler air throughout your home. Setting your fan up with a bowl of cold ice water will create a temporary make-shift air conditioner.

Wear it light: Loose fitting, light coloured clothing items are best options to beat the summer heat. Cotton in particular will help you stay cooler than other synthetic fabrics. If you have long hair, tie it back in a pony tail or bun.

Cool down: Frequently bathe, shower or soak your feet in cool or tepid water as a quick way to cool down. A moist cloth or a spray bottle filled with water can also be very effective when applied to the face, neck or wrists.

Enjoy a summer diet: Since a hot oven can greatly increase the temperature of your home, it’s best to limit cooking and baking. Instead, try preparing cold summer foods, such as salads, or using a microwave or crockpot instead of the oven.

Change your routine: If possible, reschedule exercise, yard work and other outdoor activities to the cooler morning or evening hours. Avoid any strenuous activities when the temperature is particularly high.

Chill out: Shopping malls, community centres, public libraries and movie theatres are just a few of the air conditioned places people can go to escape the heat.

Check in: Seniors and people with disabilities or health conditions may be especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses during the hot summer months. Check-in regularly with family, friends and neighbours to make sure they’re okay. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, dehydration or other heat-related illnesses.

 

From pools and patios, to gardens and relaxation, the summer season offers much to look forward to. These simple solutions can help make the hot months safer and much more enjoyable for everyone.