5 Tips for Seniors to Keep Cool in the Heat

1. Avoid Direct Sunlight

We’ve all been somewhat cooped up recently, so it’s tempting to get out and bask in the sun. However, your skin is even more sensitive to sunlight when you’ve spent long periods of time indoors. Going out early or late in the day can help you avoid the strongest rays (and heat).

Lather up! It can be a chore, but sunscreen lotions with SPF 30 really do help prevent sunburn and irritation. Think about a light spray for your scalp if your hair is thinning.

Walk on the shady side of the street!  Or enjoy a walk on a shady trail. If you can’t avoid the full sun, it’s becoming more and more common to carry a UV-resistant umbrella. You can even buy a specially designed backpack to hold it for you!

2. Hydrate

You know the drill!  No matter what your age, staying hydrated is essential to prevent heatstroke.

Flavoring water with fruit, cucumber, or mint helps to encourage regular hydration. You can also add electrolytes if you sweat excessively. There are a wide variety of convenient bottles and thermoses that keep liquids cold (including ice cubes) for up to 24 hours.

Tired of water? Try a fresh herbal ice tea! But lose the caffeine, if possible. Because it’s a diuretic and can promote further fluid loss, it’s best to avoid it.

3. Serve Cool Foods

Did you know cooler foods can also prevent heat exhaustion? As great as it is to grill, some chilled salads, fruits or soups (like gazpacho) might be a better and healthier choice. You can add more nutrition (and protein) with smoothies. Planning to go on a boat ride or sit at the beach? Consider a portable blender; some even chop ice!

3. Choose Cooler Clothing

Stay loose! Lightweight, light-colored, breathable, loose-fitting clothing help to promote airflow, evaporation, and to reflect sunlight. If skin protection is a priority, consider UV-resistant shirts, pants, or swim attire.

Add a hat and sunglasses. If you don’t have an umbrella, there are big packable hats that you can keep in the car or even in your pocket. As we age, our eyes can have difficulty adjusting to very bright sunlight. Sunglasses help you avoid eye strain and headaches. With these heat-busting fashion suggestions, you’ll look and feel cool!

5. Bathe or Mist Yourself in Cool Water

Portable personal misters and mini AC units can really help you in a pinch. More than a fan, these lifesavers allow you to fill up reservoirs of cold ice water to provide a cool moist breeze. Some need an electrical outlet to operate, but others work on batteries or through air pressure.

Your local pharmacy may sell towels that are already moist and sealed to break open when you really need it, but you can also grab your own towel and wrap it around your neck.

If you can’t take a dip in the ocean or a pool, consider a lukewarm bath or shower.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke

Remember to check on your senior friends, neighbors, and family during heat waves and consider seeking medical attention if you or a loved one starts to experience some of the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing

A little preparedness can help go a long way to ensure a safe and enjoy summer, even on the hottest of days!

(Photo credit: “Sun over Georgia Sea Islands” by crowdive is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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