As much as we love the warmth of summer, some days are simply too hot for our bodies, especially during heatwaves, and precautions need to be taken to avoid heat stress and exhaustion. This is especially important for older Australians who are most affected during these hot spells. This is due to several reasons:
- Reduced mobility – some older people have difficulty moving around and can become even weaker once heat stress starts to affect them
- Living alone – if you ignore the symptoms of heat stress, there is no one else around to take care of you
- Physical changes – As we age, the body loses its ability to regulate body temperature with sweat, and our bodies don’t cope with the changing temperature as well as they used to.
- Medical problems – as we age we are more likely to have chronic medical problems. Certain conditions make the body more vulnerable to heat stress
- Medications – some medications can hinder the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
- Kidney conditions – if you take medications for kidney problems, you need to talk to your doctor about a method for you to cope with the oncoming heat
Knowing that hot days are ahead, make plans for those hot days now. Talk to your family, doctor and carer about the options you for keeping cool. Here a few suggestions:
Keep hydrated throughout the day
Drinking water throughout the day keeps the body cool and allows it to regulate body temperature better. Water should not be too cold and should not come in the form of a caffeine or alcohol-based drink. Keep track of how much water you are drinking to ensure you are replenishing your body with the right amount.
Wear light, breathable clothing
Clothing made from light breathable materials such as cotton is best and wear layers that can be removed and put back on if required. Avoid thick, woolly clothing that traps heat.
Choose cold meals instead of hot
Pasta salads, sandwiches and fresh fruits are refreshing and easy to digest. Avoid hot and heavy meals that will make you feel sluggish, but will also heat up the house when being prepared.
Cool the body down
A cold, wet wash cloth placed on the back of the neck is an effective way of keeping yourself cool, as is placing your feet in a pan of cold water.
Spend time indoors
Invest in an air conditioning system if you can, and if not, visit your local air-conditioned public space (like mall or community centre). Fans are an easy and affordable way to keep cool and can be moved around the house wherever you go.
Stay out of the sun
If possible, avoid being outside during the sun’s peak hours. Try and stick to the shade or carry a light umbrella. Always wear a hat and sunscreen on the exposed parts of your body. When inside, keep your windows and blinds shut to block the hot sun and trap cool air inside.
The advent of summer means that you should take extra precaution to keep cool and hydrated. Keep in contact with older relatives, friends and neighbours to ensure they are staying on top of the heat. If you are feeling extra tired, call someone to come and check on you.
If you are concerned about coping with the heat this summer, talk to your Client Advisor to identify if you have funding to help with purchasing fans or other aids to keep you cool. Care Connect has dedicated home care services designed to enhance independent living at home. Speak to one of our consultants today to find out more about our services.