October 24, 2020
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How to keep older adults cool during the heat of the day

By: Julie Ann Soukoulis
July 26, 2019

Last night KTVU meteorologist Bill Martin said temperatures are slowly heating up across the Bay Area and will reach the mid-90s this week.  He mentioned per capita; these hot weather patterns are more dangerous than say a tornado per capita. Extreme heat can be especially dangerous for older adults. Nearly 200 Americans die of health-related problems brought on by high heat weather and humidity. There are physical changes that happen with age make older people are less likely to notice when they feel hot, even when outside temperatures are high. They also don’t cool down as quickly or as well as younger people. Older adults are also less likely to feel thirsty, which means they’re more likely to become dehydrated. 

 Stay hydrated!

Good old H2O is critical for rehydrating when the body experiences fluid loss, such as when we sweat. Even the harsh heat and humidity we are hit with each year can take more hydration out of our body than we realize. There are many sugary rehydration drinks on the market but be wary not all drinks with added electrolytes are the best alternative to water.  Good old-fashioned H2O is best.

If you’re tired of water and want a more natural alternative, coconut water is a delicious way of rehydrating. It is now more popular than ever, so you’ll be able to find it readily stocked in all grocery stores and local markets. 

 Try to always have a bottle of water nearby. For aging adults that means having a bottle next to them within arm’s reach at all times.  Gentle reminders for older adults may be- to keep encouraging them to sip on water throughout the day.  Some ways to do this is to have a straw they can constantly sip on or to offer a smaller glass of water (say in a small juice glass) that isn’t so over whelming to them to drink.

 Fruits, salads and vegetables

When those hot, humid and sun-scorched days creep up on us, a hot, heavy meal is not ideal. Remember that a lot of fruits, salads and vegetables contain water, which will help you stay hydrated and keep you from feeling fatigued. Our best picks are:

• Cucumber – has the highest water content of any solid food!

• Watermelon –obvious choice, and we love it!

• Iceberg lettuce – instead of using bread rolls for your hamburgers, use these delicious lettuce cups as the top and bottom

•  Tomatoes – go with cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, less messy and much more tasty

• Cauliflower - don’t let cauliflower’s pale complexion fool you. In addition to having lots of water, these unassuming florets are packed with vitamins 

• Strawberries – strawberries contain 91 percent water making them a delicious, hydrating snack anytime of the day or night!

 I hope this gives you a few more ideas on how to stay hydrated this summer. Not all your water intake needs to come from a glass. Try eating your water with different types of fruits, vegetables and salads for your next meal.  Creating summer meals that do not include heating up the home, by turning on the oven are excellent ideas.  Rather prepared meals from the BBQ outside or salads and sandwiches during the hottest of summer days which require no heat- may be a great option. 

 Be sure to check the AC in the homes of your aging loved ones. Be sure it set to keep them comfortable during heat waves. My go-to is a solid oscillating fan to create a cool breeze.  Target, Walmart, drug stores such as Walgreens & CVS even carry these. Of course, your local Home Depot or Lowes carry many options of fans to maintain a cool breeze flowing even if Mother Nature isn’t. Don’t forget about cooling centers either. You can always count on movie theaters to have the AC fired up to keep you cool while you enjoy an afternoon film. Our local Rohnert Park Senior Center too is a cool place to hang out.   The Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa has been a cooling center too in Santa Rosa.

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern?  She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.