As we age, our body’s ability to cool down becomes less efficient. So when temperatures start to climb, older adults run a higher risk of overheating. Decreased blood circulation, certain medications, under active sweat glands and changes in the skin can all play a role. So how can you help keep your older loved ones safe in hot temperatures?

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An important first step is learning about the signs and symptoms that their body temperature has reached the point of becoming a risk for their health. Heat stress and heat cramps are both forms of hyperthermia, a general name for the variety of heat-related illnesses. The symptoms to watch for include:

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Muscle spasms

  • Fatigue

  • Sudden dizziness

  • Swelling in the ankles

  • Cold, clammy skin

  • Fainting

If you or an older loved one is experiencing these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. But if you’re proactive, there is no reason it should get to that point. Here are a few ways to help your older loved ones stay safe in the hot temperatures.

  • Prepare for the weather. These days there are many easy ways to check the weather and determine if a risk exists. If your older loved one has a smartphone or tablet, install a weather app for them so they can quickly access information. A few weather apps to look into include Wunderground, the Weather Channel app or Accuweather. Bookmark the weather channel on their computer as well. On days when you know it’s going to be particularly hot, alert your older loved one and be sure to check in on them throughout the day.

  • Stay inside. On days when it’s really hot and/or humid, ask your older loved one to stay indoors where there is air conditioning. Being indoors will decrease chances of overheating.

  • Drink ample fluids. Proper hydration is a key part of staying safe in hot weather, so make sure your older loved one is drinking plenty of water. The Mayo Clinic advises to drink between 2.2 and 3 liters of water a day. Consider purchasing your loved one a large water bottle they can keep with them throughout the day.

  • Dress for the weather. Wearing light colored clothing made of lightweight fabrics will go a long way toward helping older adults stay cool during the summer. If your older loved one will be outside during hot temperatures, make sure they have essential light clothing such as linen pants and tops in breathable fabrics.

Taking these steps will help your older loved ones stay safe during the extreme hot temperatures we’re sure to experience at some point this summer. Most importantly, remember to check in on your loved ones often, especially if they live alone. Summertime brings countless fun activities, but it also brings the responsibility of keeping yourself and others safe as the mercury climbs.