We’ve been really blessed with the weather here so far, with long days, and warm nights. A lot of us have been enjoying going out and about in the sunshine, but for elderly people, they can really struggle in the heat. Ireland may not get as hot as it does in other countries, but our recent weather has seen the temperature rise beyond 20 degrees. While in winter it’s important to ensure our elderly and vulnerable loved ones stay warm, in summer we need to ensure they’re hydrated and cool.
Elderly people, and particularly those who live with chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes, are the most vulnerable during extreme temperatures. Keep reading to find out about our tips to keep your loved ones safe during the summer weather.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated can be difficult at the best of times, and warmer weather makes it even more of a challenge. Elderly people don’t register thirst as quickly as younger people, so they may not drink as much as they need. It’s important to remind elderly people to take small sips of water regularly.
Limit tea and coffee intake
Staying hydrated is essential, but drinking too much tea or coffee is actually counterproductive to elderly people. This is because caffeine is a diuretic and depletes our bodies of liquid. It causes us to go to the bathroom more, which can ultimately lead to dehydration.
Excessive heat can lead not only to dehydration, but to sunstroke as well. There’s a reason why Spanish siestas exist! Older people should try to avoid going out in the midday sun, when the sun is at its hottest, between 11am and 3pm. If the midday sun is unavoidable, sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses are necessary.
Bring extra layers
We can’t count the number of times we’ve gone out in hot sun for the day, and not gotten home until the sun has gone down. When this happens, we’re left wishing we’d brought a jacket with us! Older people can get colder much quicker than younger people, and can find it difficult to heat their bodies back up again. That means they should always have an extra layer of clothing with them when going out for the day.
Have a cool shower
Cooling down at the end of the day with a nice shower can be refreshing, and can also wash off any pollen that has accumulated in your hair and on your skin. This way, if you or your loved one is prone to hay fever, this should help get them some relief from symptoms. Of course, be sure they’re safe in the shower and avoid falls.
In the summer, our appetites aren’t as strong as they are during the winter. The heat can make us less hungry, but eating regularly and healthily is important. Eating a balanced diet can help us get our essential vitamins and minerals, and keeps our blood sugar regulated. If you need further help around diet and nutrition, we recommend speaking with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist to receive the correct health tips about foods that provide essential nutrition to the elderly.
The summer is great; the days are longer, Ireland is prettier than any other time of year, and people are happier, but we often forget about our elderly family members and neighbours. The heat is welcomed, but it is not without potential health risks. That’s why the summer safety tips above are easy to follow and should make your summer fun and safe!