Stay hydrated to beat the heat

Stay hydrated to beat the heat

The recent stretch of hot weather, and the possibility of more before summer is over, brings up this reminder from medical experts: Dehydration and other heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, are particularly dangerous for older adults.

According to the American Journal of Physiology, the body’s thermoregulation capacity, or ability to control body temperature, naturally decreases with age. Think of the thermoregulation system as the body’s internal heating and cooling system. Natural responses to warm temperatures, like sweating to cool the body, become less efficient over time. As the body becomes less capable of cooling itself, dehydration (the depletion of fluids or electrolytes in the body) becomes an increasing concern.

The following tips from Dr. Richard Smith, a medical director for Humana, can help reduce the risk of dehydration:

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

It’s recommended that healthy individuals drink at least four to six glasses of water a day. But plain water isn’t the only option. A refreshing summer drink can be enjoyable and keep the body hydrated. Unsweetened iced tea is a great choice. Or, mix a favorite fruit in a pitcher of water and leave it in the fridge overnight for a cool, fruity drink the following day. Caffeine and alcoholic drinks don’t count. In fact, try cutting those options from the daily diet, particularly when the summer temperatures rise.

It’s helpful to treat proper hydration like a daily routine. Take steps to keep a drinking schedule that spreads fluid intake evenly throughout the day. Fill and stage multiple water bottles in convenient spots throughout the home.

Wear loose-fitting clothes.

They keep the body cooler than tight-fitting options. Light-colored clothing, such as white or light blue, are a smart alternative to dark colors. Also, stay away from heavy cotton or thicker fabrics. The result is a summer style that is comfortable and helps keep the body cool all season long.

Stay busy with indoor activities.

If outside, stick to the shade. However, a better option is spending the day inside. That doesn’t mean staying home. Malls and movie theaters keep the air-conditioning running. Or visit a neighbor. Bring your favorite water-based beverage and keep hydrated alongside a friend or loved one.