While the summer may lift our spirits, temperatures can sometimes become uncomfortable and even dangerously hot. Anyone can be affected by the heat, but a person may be more at risk if they have a long-term health condition or are on certain medications.
If you have elderly relatives, friends or neighbours, there is a useful checklist at the end of the article.
Some tips may seem like common sense, but they can make a big difference to an older person’s well-being.
Looking after yourself
Changes in our bodies as we age mean:
- We’re less likely to notice when we feel hot
- We take longer to cool down
- We’re less likely to feel thirsty
Try to drink more than usual – in hot weather, even if you’re not thirsty. You must drink about eight glasses (2 litres or 3½ pints) spread throughout the day – more if it’s very hot.
Slow down – Avoid too much activity, especially at the hottest times of the day (between 11 am and 3 pm).
If you go out – try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Take water, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with you.
Keep cool – If it’s cooler indoors, then stay inside. Help keep the heat out by closing the windows, curtains, and blinds.
Dress for the weather – Wearing the right clothes can help you keep cool and protect you from the sun’s radiation.
Protect your skin and eyes – Too much radiation from ultraviolet (UV) light causes skin damage.
Sunlight and vitamin D – While it’s important to protect your skin, sunlight helps our bodies make vitamin D, which we need for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
Your medication – Some medications can make the effects of the heat worse. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about how best to manage this.
Heatwaves can happen suddenly. It’s a good idea to get organised before the weather gets hot.
Checklist to help you prepare
- Have you enough supplies of food, water, and any medication you need?
- Can you get extra support if you need it – for example, to help with shopping if it’s too hot to go out?
- Are your fridge and freezer working properly?
- Have you checked that any fans or air conditioning are working?
- Can you open windows and vents so you can safely ventilate your home?
- Can you turn off your central heating?
- Have you got a thermometer you can keep out of direct sunlight in a commonly used room?
With thanks to Independent Age
For more detailed advice, here is a link to their Summer Wise Advice Guide