The Australian summer is notoriously harsh, with higher temperatures posing a greater threat to the health of young and old. Adults over 50 are more likely to have a medical condition or use prescription medications that can impact the body’s ability to control temperature.
Here's some sage advice to help you keep cool and safe during these hot months.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
As we get older, we lose the ability to conserve water and become aware of thirst and are more susceptible to dehydration. Keeping a water bottle next to your bed or your favourite chair could help, especially for those with mobility issues. Ice-blocks are a great way to help increase fluid intake, particularly for people with swallowing problems.
2. Dress Right
When it’s warm out, some people find natural fabric (such as cotton) to be cooler than synthetic fibres. Stock your summer wardrobe with light-coloured and lose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable.
3. Protect your Skin
Everyone should be wearing sun screen when outdoors, whether young or old. The elderly especially need extra sun protection to help keep them healthy. As we age, our skin undergoes changes that weaken our defences against skin disease like reduced immune systems, poorer healing capacity, thinner skin, and damage from things like smoking and pollution. These changes all contribute to accelerated skin aging and increase risk of skin cancer.
4. Keep an eye out for elderly friends and neighbours
It’s important to regularly check in with elderly relatives and neighbours to make sure they are doing okay, particularly if they live alone. Call for medical help if they’re showing symptoms of heat-related illness. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body overheats, and if it’s not treated, it can lead to heat stroke, which is life threatening - know the signs of heat exhaustion, including sweating, dizziness, racing heartbeat, and headache.