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Keeping your parents safe in Summer

Dehydration diminishes the body’s ability to regulate temperature and the risk of developing a heat illness rises dramatically. When we age, our bodies become less efficient at regulating temperature – people over 65 don’t sweat as much as younger adults, which unfortunately is one of the body’s most important heat-regulation mechanisms. As the temperature rises, so too does the internal body temperature, especially when there is exposure to the sun or extremely hot environments and is the primary reason why older people suffer from heat stroke more often than younger people throughout the summer and need to ensure that they stay hydrated.

Here are some ways to encourage your parents to keep cool:

  • Rinse a cloth in cool water and use it to wipe arms and neck
  • Sleep with just a sheet
  • Put feet in a bowl of cool water
  • Make ice cubes from water or cordial and suck them to keep cool
  • Put a bowl of ice cubes in front of a fan to create a cool breeze
  • Use fans or air conditioning if it is hot in the house. It is important to check it is set to cool before turning it on.
    • Look into what concessions are available on energy bills, as some older people are worried about using their air conditioning because of the costs
  • Close curtains to aid in cooling the house down
  • Visit air conditioned local libraries or shopping centres for some relief during extreme heat
  • Drink plenty of water
    • If your parent already drinks the recommended eight glasses a day, encourage them to try adding a couple more to compensate for the summer heat
  • When heading outdoors, wear lightweight, protective clothing, hats, and plenty of broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunblock, as well as sunglasses
  • Exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun is not at its peak
  • Replace the hot shower with a cool shower
  • Keep in touch
    • High temperatures can be life-threatening so communication is critical for safety