Keeping Your Cool in the Sun and Heat

Published In Blog

Summer can be a deadly time for seniors, what with the hot weather and beating sun taking a toll. Since most of you seniors are pretty tough, you’ll suffer in the heat — sometimes at triple digits — and never say a word. But be aware: older skin is more fragile. Dehydration becomes more deadly in the summertime. So how can you not only survive unrelenting heat, but also thrive. Be smart!

Skin Care & Eye Care

My mother grabs a wide-brimmed floppy hat from the Dollar Store and wears a long sleeved cotton shirt before working in the yard. She also slathers sunscreen on her face, hands and arms. Skin cancer can be prevented if you wear protective clothing and apply and re-apply sunscreen to that pretty face.

Your eyes also need to be protected from the sun. Remember to put your sunglasses on before going out even for a short time. Large sunglasses will also help protect your face.

Drink Your Water!

Getting enough fluids is a must when it is hot. Stay hydrated. Everyone should have an insulated drink container, preferably with a lid and a built in straw. Keep it filled with ice and water. Where you go, it should go. Drink . . . drink . . . drink! It’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks which will cause you to lose fluids more quickly. Drinking often will keep you feeling cooler while flushing your kidneys. You will just feel better.

Keep Your House Cool!

If you have air conditioning, use it. I know it’s expensive but your life is more important. There are ways to keep your home bearable and power costs in check during hot days.

If your neck of the woods cools down at night, switch off your air conditioner, and open up the doors and windows to let the cool air circulate. (We use a whole house fan to cool the house and the attic down.) Then in the morning before the sun rises and the heat rages, I turn off the house fan, shutter every window, pull every shade, draw the drapes, and shut every door to keep the cool in and block the sunlight. In other words, I tightly seal my home. It may not seem obvious, but I never use the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer during the hot hours.

This works really well here in Sacramento Valley and it’s often over 100 degrees during the summer. We are blessed with natural air conditioning at night and a Delta breeze in the late afternoons.

Be Smart When You Do Errands!

All your appointments and shopping trips should be planned when it’s cool. Do not go out during the hottest time of day. If I have an errand to run, I go very early in the morning when it’s still cool or late in the afternoon, when the sun sets. That’s also when I tend the little vegetable patch and fill up the bird baths with water. They get hot too!

Keep Tabs on Your Senior Loved Ones!

During dangerous hot weather everyone needs to be observant. If you have older loved ones who also have mobility problems, are socially isolated, not equipped to handle heat on their own or won’t use their air conditioner to save money, stay in frequent touch with them. Calling them might just save their life. Heat stroke and dehydration are sneaky and require immediate attention. Don’t take a chance with your health or the health of someone you love. Call 911 in the event of a heat emergency.

Four Legged Friends

Remember your pets during the hot summer days. Keep plenty of fresh water available and bring them inside when it gets really hot. My mother puts a little ice in her dog’s water. He loves it! Consider purchasing a small wading pool for your dogs who like to get wet. Any wildlife that’s in your yard will thank you.

(This article has been reviewed in February 2024 since it originally published August 2016.)

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