On average, the temperatures in Springfield, MO, during July days hovers around 88 degrees F, but residents at The Gardens assisted living community know that the heat can easily rise to 97 degrees F or so in the hottest part of the summer day. Late July and August can be some of the hottest parts of the summer in the area, but we’ve put together some tips for beating the heat and staying comfortable and cool around the assisted living community.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most people are able to meet their hydration needs by drinking with meals and when they’re thirsty, but that heat can cause you to need more hydration throughout the day. So, listen to your body and sip on healthy, non-sugary beverages such as water or herbal tea when necessary. Sugary or caffeinated beverages can act to dehydrate you even more.
If you’re not sure what to drink, plain water is typically the best choice. Seniors that want something a bit fancier with meals or as a refreshing sipper outside might opt for flavored seltzer water.
Seniors with chronic health conditions, especially those that affect the kidney or heart, should talk to their doctors about hydration needs. You might need to balance a liquid-restriction with staying hydrated enough during the summer.
Put blinds or sun-blocking curtains on assisted living windows to keep out UV rays that can warm your space to uncomfortable levels. If you have an east- or west-facing window in your residence, this could be even more critical to maintaining comfort.
Choose coverings that can easily be drawn to let in natural light when you do want it. Natural light at cooler parts of the day can make your assisted living apartment feel homier or even help brighten your spirits. And during colder months, you might want to use the sunlight to help warm your space.
Many people believe that the hottest part of the day is around noon, because that’s when the sun rides highest. But that’s actually just when you’ll find the least amount of shade — something you might also consider when spending time outdoors. Typically, the hottest part of the day on a day when the sun has been shining is around 3 pm. To avoid extreme heat, consider doing outdoor activities in the morning or early evening.
Lightly colored, lightweight fabrics such as cotton typically feel coolest against your skin. And while it might seem like a tank top and shorts are the way to go, covering yourself with sleeves and lightweight pants can actually help you feel cooler by keeping the sun off your skin.
This has the added benefit of reducing how much potentially harmful UV light hits your skin. The CDC recommends wearing clothing that covers your skin as well as a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself against harmful sun radiation.
After a warm morning gardening or a sweat-inducing walk around the assisted living community, a hot shower or bath might seem like the best medicine. But it could leave you warmed up and uncomfortable during the summer. Instead, reduce the temperature of the water to lukewarm for a cooler way to get refreshingly clean.
Popsicles, iced tea, cold sandwiches and ice cream: These are the bastions of summer picnics and treats, in part because they are refreshing when we’re dealing with the heat.
But some studies have shown that eating hot foods when you’re warm can also have a cooling effect. That’s because drinking hot tea or eating a hot meal can bring up your body temperature a bit and make you sweat. If the sweat evaporates, your body feels cooler. That’s actually the reason for sweat to begin with.
So, avoid chowing down on ice cream just to cool yourself off and make sure that you feed your body with appropriate nutrients throughout the summer. You may, however, want to avoid salty foods when possible, as that can lead to retaining water and bloating that makes you feel even more uncomfortable in the heat.
Know what the signs of heat stroke and other issues are so you know if you’re getting overheated. The CDC lists some warning signs that include stomach issues, running a fever, muscle cramps, headaches, confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and sweating that is behind normal.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or others called out by the CDC, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re dealing with a heat-related illness. But if they show up after you’ve been outdoors or in another hot environment in the summer, it’s worth investigating, so reach out to the assisted living community staff for assistance.