Summer is upon us, bringing with it the warmer nights and longer days that signal an increase in outdoors events and activities. A little summer sun and fresh air can be good for all of us. This is a perfect time of year to get outside and get moving to improve your overall health.
However, as temperatures rise, it’s important for older adults to be aware that research has shown that those over age 60 can be more prone to heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration and heat stroke. While this should not keep you from enjoying your favorite activities, you should put a few practices in place to help safeguard your health.
Common Summer Ailments
Heat-related illnesses and ailments cause roughly 1,300 deaths a year in the United States. As extreme weather events increase, this number is expected to continue to rise. While heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration are the most dangerous of heat-related illnesses, sunburn, heat rash, heat fatigue and heat cramps are also common.
Significantly, over 80% of heat-related deaths occur in adults over 60. This is due to a change in our physiology as we age, increasing our sensitivity to heat and humidity. We also develop a reduction in our sensitivity to thirst. In addition, a higher occurrence of chronic conditions in older adults and poor circulation can increase one’s risk of heat-related ailments.
Tips to Stay Healthy This Summer
Eat Fresh, Local Produce
Take advantage of the bounty of summer to nourish yourself with fresh, local produce. Eating leafy greens and vibrant fruits has been shown to improve health outcomes at every age. Many of the season’s most prolific fruits and vegetables, such as melon, squash, berries and cucumbers, are also simply delicious!
Protect Your Eyes and Skin
It’s tempting to allow more of our skin to be exposed to the sun as the weather warms. However, this leaves our skin extremely vulnerable to harmful UV rays. Instead, choose to wear loose, light-colored clothing that’s made of breathable fabrics like cotton on linen. Darker colors, such as black and deep blues, absorb the sun’s heat instead of reflecting it. Be sure to apply sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 on exposed skin, especially on your face, even if you choose to wear a hat.
Hydration is key to preventing heat-related illness. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, your body needs at least eight glasses of water, juice or decaffeinated tea each day. If you are engaged in vigorous physical activity or are outdoors in very hot weather, your hydration needs will increase. Also, try to avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages during this time, as these can dehydrate you.
Avoid Extreme Heat
Extreme heat is defined as a period of heat and humidity where temperatures are above 90 degrees. North Texas experiences roughly 20 days each year that soar above 90 degrees. On these occasions, it’s best to stay indoors or in the shade to reduce your risk of heat-related illnesses. For those who must go outside, ensure that you protect your eyes and skin and try not to stay out in the open for extended periods. If you wish to engage in vigorous outdoor activities, try to schedule them for the early morning or evening hours.
Review Your Medications
Are you aware of all of the side-effects of your medications? One often overlooked side-effect to some common medications is that they make you ultrasensitive to the sun. This can cause sunburn or heat rash even when you haven’t been out in the sun very long. Ensure that you review your medications before the season begins in earnest to know if you’re at risk. If unsure, discuss your medications with a healthcare professional.
How Edgemere Promotes Healthy Aging
Edgemere is an upscale senior living community unlike any other. At Edgemere, we believe that enabling our residents to live the best years of their lives here means providing everything they desire for developing mental, physical and spiritual wellness.
When you tour our community, you’ll see firsthand how each amenity and service is carefully crafted to meet our residents’ unique needs and interests while encouraging further growth. Learn more and schedule a tour today to see what life here is really like.