The summer heat is here, and it’s here to stay for a good while. Depending on where you live, the heat and humidity can sometimes border on nigh-unbearable without a powerful air-conditioning system or at least a strong fan. The summer heat makes outdoor activities more difficult, makes the midday a little less fun, and can even push people to isolate inside, away from the outdoor air.
For many elders, avoiding the heat is an important part of staying healthy. Too hot an environment can lead to additional stress on the body, and in dire cases can even lead to dehydration or heat stroke. We all hear in school health class the importance of drinking enough water, but many of us may not be aware of just how much water we need during the day. Especially during a sweltering summer day.
For younger people, it’s easy to go to the kitchen and grab a glass of water, or a water bottle out of the fridge. But for elders who may struggle with mobility issues or even balance problems, the easy task of getting some water might not actually be so easy. In addition, the sense of thirst that we feel in our mouths and bodies is diminished as we get older. Throughout our lives we may hit a point of thirst that overrides any “inconvenience” of having get up from the couch, or go inside to get water, but for elders this may not always be the case. So how can we make sure our elder friends and relatives are drinking and avoiding the potentially dangerous condition of dehydration?
One of the important things to keep in mind is the environment. By environment we mean the direct local surroundings. Is the interior of the house sweltering? Is the back yard in direct sunlight? These factors can increase the rate at which the human body uses water, putting us at higher risk for dehydration and its health risks like blood pressure issues, heart palpitations, and more.
Another factor to look out for with our elder relatives and friends is the ease of access to water. If the journey to get a glass of water means getting out of bed, walking down the hall, going to the kitchen, finding a glass, filling the glass, getting ice, etc., then some people, elders included, may just decide to tolerate the feeling of thirst rather than go through all the hassle. But this can lead to dehydration and its health risks, oftentimes without us even realizing. The solution is to have water readily available. Perhaps a pitcher of ice water next to the bed before going to sleep. A few bottles of water in a cooler in the living room. Reducing the effort required to stay hydrated can make a big difference on hydration for elders.
Although the heat makes everyone thirsty, it can be even more serious for our elder relatives and friends to not get enough water and risk dehydration. For a free consultation regarding home set-up, elder care services, and keeping elder friends and relatives happy and healthy in their later years, feel free to contact us at Senior Steps!