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.

Planning ahead

Heatwaves can happen suddenly. It’s a good idea to get organised before the weather gets hot.

Checklist to help you prepare

  1. Have you enough supplies of food, water, and any medication you need?
  2. Can you get extra support if you need it – for example, to help with shopping if it’s too hot to go out?
  3. Are your fridge and freezer working properly?
  4. Have you checked that any fans or air conditioning are working?
  5. Can you open windows and vents so you can safely ventilate your home?
  6. Can you turn off your central heating?
  7. 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

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