Handling the Heat

Minnesota’s had record-breaking heat already this summer, and while it’s good to feel the summer sun, excessive heat can cause all sorts of problems. Here are a few ideas to stay comfortable, healthy, and most of all, safe when the temperatures soar.

For many people, it’s easy to stay cool if your house and car are air-conditioned, and you can avoid being outside in the heat. But if you need to be out, take precautions first. Try to run errands in the cool mornings or evenings, wear lightweight clothes, stay in the shade, and drink plenty of water and other cool beverages. Never leave children, pets, or anyone in a hot car!

Those guidelines are for everyone, but seniors usually need to take a few additional steps. And if you’re a caregiver, especially for someone with dementia, those extra steps are critical to keeping your loved one safe in a heat wave.

For example, seniors often don’t sweat as effectively as younger people. Poor circulation, heart disease and other chronic conditions add to the problem, and some medications can also make things worse. Keep your house as cool as possible with AC or fans, and eat nutritious, light foods.

Dehydration is also a concern at the top of the list. Many seniors no longer feel thirsty under any conditions, so they drink less. Some don’t drink enough water because they want to avoid frequent trips to the bathroom, or they’ve become used to drinking coffee or other caffeinated,  sugared drinks, and those cannot replace fluids as well as water does.

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke is a danger when a person overheats, and this is often demonstrated with confusion, nausea, or even high body temperatures and fainting. These merit immediate action and a 911 call.

For more information on both staying cool and preventing heat-related health problems, check out these articles below:

Tips for Protecting Seniors from Dangerous Summer Heat

How to handle a heat wave: Safety tips and ways to stay cool

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