Tips to help seniors survive, thrive in summer heat

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The Lowcountry is a wonderful place to spend the summer season. Some of our senior population tend to head north to the cooler temperatures, but many of our residents stay local.

The pleasures of summer include vine-ripe tomatoes, lazy afternoons on the beach, sunny days and late afternoon rain showers. Along with the things we love about summer in the Lowcountry we must endure the soaring temperatures.

According to the CDC, "people aged 65 years or older are more prone to suffer from heat-related illness because they don't adjust as well to changes in temperature and are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change the normal body response to heat."

Older adults are more likely to take medication that might affect the body's response to sun exposure and the body's ability to control its temperature.

During the heat of the summer, it is necessary to limit your time in the sun and heat. When possible, stay in an air-conditioned location. If you don't have access to air conditioning, contact the Beaufort County Health Department for local resources.

Avoid using the oven or stove to cook your meals, as the heat from those appliances will linger in your home and make it harder to cool.

Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Water is your best option. To make it a little more palatable, add fresh slices of citrus or the fruit of your choice.

Start each day with a large glass of water. Make it a habit to keep a water bottle at your side at all times and sip on it through out the day.

Don't wait until you are thirsty to begin drinking each day. Make sure to check with your doctor if you have been told to limit the amount of fluids you should drink each day.

Avoid the outdoors during the peak heat hours of the day. The Farmer's Almanac says "the hottest time of the day is around 3 p.m. Heat continues building up after noon, when the sun is highest in the sky, as long as more heat is arriving at the earth than leaving. By 3 p.m. or so, the sun is low enough in the sky for outgoing heat to be greater than incoming. Sometimes the hottest time is earlier because a weather system moves in with cool air early in the day."

Make sure to avoid exercise or any activity that might cause a rise in body temperature. Wear clothing that is loose, breathable material and a light color to reflect the rays of the sun.

Use these tips while enjoying the beauty of our Lowcountry summer.

Jennifer Redmond is the family care coordinator for Senior Helpers of Hilton Head Island. jredmond@seniorhelpers.com.

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