Helping older people stay healthy in the heat

Helping older people stay healthy in the heat

Author: Philippa Thompson

It’s fair to say that we have been blessed with a magnificent spring this year. As we head into summer, it would be lovely to see that continue. Being able to enjoy one’s garden is certainly a relief as older people continue to observe the lockdown restrictions.

However, when the temperatures rise, it’s important to look after yourself – especially in later life when you may be more susceptible to the ill effects of too much sun, dehydration and overheating.

This month, we take a look at three ways to stay healthy as the weather warms.

Keeping cool

One of the most important things to do is to keep yourself, and your home, as cool as possible.

Wearing loose fitting, light coloured clothes made from natural fabrics will help you to achieve this. Layers are also great as you can remove them as the day warms up. Manmade fabrics will have the opposite effect and may result in overheating.

If you’re out in the garden, protect your eyes with sunglasses that have good levels of UV protection, pop on a sunhat for extra protection and don’t forget to use sunscreen.

Keeping your home cool can be tricky in the UK as our homes are built for a cooler climate and therefore are designed to retain heat. However, opening the windows in the mornings and evenings when it is cooler, but closing them (and your blinds or curtains) during the hottest part of the day will help to keep the air cooler inside. Leaving a window open at night will help you to get a good night’s sleep.

Changing bedding in the summer months can also help you to sleep well. You could opt for a lighter duvet, or even just a cotton sheet if it’s really hot. However even on the hottest days, it can still get chilly at night so have a light blanket to hand in case you get cold.

In rooms that are particularly hot, you might find it helps to place a bowl of iced water in front of an electric fan. This will have the effect of cooling the air being circulated rather than just moving hot air around.

Eating to beat the heat

You may find that your appetite reduces in the hot weather, but it is important to keep yourself well nourished and hydrated. You can do this by eating little and often.

Seasonal fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients and often have a high water content which means that they help to hydrate you. Salads are a great way to eat lots of healthy, nutrient dense vegetables but don’t forget to add a good source of protein such as chicken or fish.

If you really don’t feel like eating, smoothies and chilled soups are a tasty alternative.

Alongside smaller, more frequent meals make sure you keep your fluids topped up. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks which will dehydrate you. Choose water, herbal teas and some fruit juice – although juice is high in sugar so don’t overdo it. Hot drinks can often be just as refreshing as cold ones so if you fancy a cup of tea go ahead.

Keeping active

As well as a reduced appetite, you may also feel more tired than usual. The heat can sap your energy leaving you in need of more naps. Whilst there is no real harm in taking an afternoon nap, do try and couple that with some gentle exercise or activity during the cooler parts of the day. This could be yoga, some gentle gardening, or a stroll around your garden. If you are not in any of the groups affected by longer term lockdown restrictions, getting out for an early morning walk will get your day off to a great start. Take care not to overdo it and do avoid exercising in the sun during the hottest hours of the day.

If you feel excessively tired and out of sorts, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Seasonal activities at The Dower House

Thanks to our spacious gardens and home, our residents are able to take regular, appropriate exercise all year round. Our specialist physiotherapist ensures that any activities are suitable, or modified, for the needs of those taking part.

The grounds offer plenty of opportunities to relax in the sun, or the shade, and we use gazebos to provide extra shelter when we take tea or hold outdoor activities.

In particular, we look forward to Pimms evenings, garden quoits and afternoon tea with Matron.

You can find out more about our activities and life at The Dower House by liking our Facebook page or joining our mailing list for a regular update on life at The Dower House.

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