Older adults might need to reach for that glass of water a little more quickly than others during the hot summer months.
Normal aging brings about changes that can affect how some older adults sense and react to warm weather, meaning that they might not get the hydration their bodies need, said an expert at the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine.
Aging changes ability to cope
"Thermoregulation, or the body's ability to maintain a steady temperature, is affected as we age and can lead to hyperthermia, or overheating of the body, in older adults," said Dr. Robert Roush, associate professor of medicine – geriatrics at BCM.
Changes in the body's ability to cope with hot weather can result in dehydration in older adults because they lose their sense of thirst or do not sweat as much. Due to thinning of the skin, they also overdress because they feel cold, said Roush.
Head off the heat!
Roush offers the following tips for older adults during the warm summer months:
- Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing
- Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for long periods of time
- Make sure the temperature in your home or room is 20 degrees cooler when outdoor temperature is in the 90s
- Drink cool water throughout the day
- If you feel dizzy, confused, nauseated or generally "out of sorts," seek medical attention or let someone know where you are and how you feel
Family and friends of older adults should stay in touch with them throughout the summer months to be sure they are staying cool. If they are not, try to get them to cooler places such as senior centers, a mall or even a movie theater for at least two hours during the hottest times of the day.
For more information and tips related to hyperthermia, visit National Institute on Aging.