Many parts of the country are experiencing record high temperatures this summer. Plus, those of us lucky enough to escape those records are still battling intense heat.
And here’s the thing. The heat isn’t just uncomfortable. And it doesn’t simply interfere with our summer fun, either. It can be downright deadly.
Extreme heat can quickly lead to dehydration. And if you’re a senior, your risk is even higher.
But you deserve to enjoy the freedom that the slowing pandemic is providing as much as the next guy or gal. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly had more than enough lockdown to last a lifetime.
And although you SHOULD stay indoors during the worst of it, hiding inside with the air-conditioning blasting ALL day long is no way to spend the entire summer. Instead, let me clue you in on the critical dehydration signs you need to be on the lookout for.
Plus, I’ll share with you some simple ways to beat the heat, keep hydrated, and stay safe during this heatwave and beyond.
Look out for these telltale signs of dehydration
Dehydration is a leading cause of hospitalization among seniors. And, of course, cases shoot through the roof during the summer months.
You’re at a higher risk if, like a lot of folks on fixed incomes, you’re prone to keeping the A/C off to save on the electric bill. But that’s not the only reason seniors face a higher dehydration risk.
As we age, our internal thermostat doesn’t work quite as well as it once did. That means the heat may not always feel as oppressive to you as it would to a younger person. Also, you may not pick up on the adverse effects it’s having on your body.
Common prescription drugs can play tricks on you too. Meds like blood thinners can make it feel like it’s cooler than it is. You might even feel chilled on a hot day. (Sound familiar?)
Our bodies conserve less water as we age, as well. Plus, certain drugs, especially diuretics, can cause you to lose even more water, often without realizing it.
This is why it’s no surprise that one study found 95 percent of older guys and 83 percent of older gals fall short when it comes to drinking enough throughout the day. That makes it VITAL that you know the warning signs of dehydration.
Early signs of mild dehydration include brain fog, sagging energy levels, and irritability. But, as the dehydration progresses, more severe symptoms will typically show up, including…
- dry mouth
- walking difficulties
And, of course, dehydration makes you far more susceptible to heatstroke, which is serious business for seniors. In fact, recent statistics show 40 percent of heat-related deaths are in adults over 65.
Stay hydrated this summer with 3 tasty options
The good news is you CAN head dehydration off at the pass. The important thing is to get to work before you have any signs.
But don’t worry, staying hydrated doesn’t mean you need to knock back glass after glass of water until it starts coming out of your ears.
Start by drinking something with every meal. Then between meals, instead of gulping down lots of liquids, be sure to sip on something throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink.
And sure, you can make that something plain water if you like. But you don’t have to. You can add some variety (and fun) to the mix.
Cucumber water: Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Cucumber-infused water is a whole new level of refreshing. If you think plain water is invigorating, just wait until you sip on some of this stuff.
And talk about easy to make. Simply wash and peel some cucumbers, cut them into slices, drop them into a pitcher of water, and chill overnight. Goodbye, boring water AND dehydration. And don’t forget to munch on the cucumbers at the end. They’re packed with even MORE hydrating water.
Melon water: Want to mix it up some more? Repeat the cucumber recipe with some chunks of watermelon instead. But I’ll warn you whenever I make this, I could swear it’s addictive. You might want to make two batches at a time.
Other fruits and veggies such as strawberries, grapefruit, and celery make good substitutes too.
Milk: I know milk isn’t exactly something you usually think about drinking on a hot day. Blecch! But hear me out. If you’re indoors in the A/C, you still need to stay hydrated, and believe it or not, milk is an excellent option.
According to a 2016 study, milk is a near-perfect mix of liquid and nutrients to help head off dehydration. In fact, researchers say it’s MORE hydrating than water or sports drinks. Just make sure it’s the full-fat variety.
It’s critical to stay hydrated during the current heatwave and beyond. Don’t let dehydration land you in the hospital… or worse.
Whenever it’s hot outside, make it a habit to keep a drink close by so you can sip on it throughout the day. And go ahead and indulge in some air conditioning whenever the temperature soars.