Health Advisory: It is especially important for seniors to stay cool during heat wave
It is predicted that Boston is in for another heat wave over the next few days. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs has advised Councils on Aging, Aging Services Access Points, and senior centers to be particularly vigilant in assisting elders in taking extra precautions during extremely hot weather. High temperatures can take a tremendous toll on the health of seniors as recently evidenced by the impact on elders in California as a result of the higher than normal temperatures. Seniors especially should take extra care to keep cool and hydrated during hot, humid days.
Elders are advised to stay safe and comfortable by:
Fluids: The best liquid to drink during hot, humid days is water. Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty, in order to stay hydrated. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Avoid alcoholic beverages which will dehydrate your body. Drink sports drinks that have the added minerals that your body loses when it sweats.
Clothes: Wear light colors and light materials such as linen and cotton. Materials such as rayon and polyester tend to trap heat close to the skin. Wear loose fitting clothing; wear a hat with a wide brim to protect the face; put on sunscreen lotion with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30.
Home: Stay indoors during extremely hot weather; lower shades, blinds, or close drapes on the east side of your home during the morning hours and the west side during the afternoon in order to keep your home or apartment as cool as possible. Use a fan in the rooms where the windows are covered. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to your local Council on Aging, Aging Service Access Point location, senior center, mall, or library in order to stay cool.
Outdoors: Wear sunscreen SPF 30 or higher. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or take an umbrella to block the sun. Schedule outdoor activities before 10am or after 6pm when the temperature is lower. Avoid strenuous activity. If you are outside, take frequent breaks in shaded area. Avoid crowded places.
Food: Keep frozen treats such as ice cream and popsicles in the freezer that can help you keep cool during hot weather. Eat cold foods such as sandwiches and salads. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also another way to keep hydrated.
Buddy System: Make sure that you have someone to check on you to make sure that you are well.
Using Common Sense: Avoid long walks, particularly during noon-3pm, when the sun is at its peak. Pay attention to weather reports.
Contact you doctor if you are taking several drugs for a number of health problems because these may make it harder for your body to keep cool through perspiration. A few examples would be diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and also some heart and blood pressure medicines.
(Courtesy of The Councils on Aging)