Summers in the Washington, D.C., area can be tricky, especially for seniors. One day the area can bring cool breezes and cloudy skies followed by a string of blazing heat and humidity the next. Fortunately, with a few precautionary measures and a hefty dose of creativity, seniors can still remain active, see family and friends, and visit favorite hot spots.
This is especially important because today’s seniors are more active than ever, taking advantage of all the opportunities to exercise, socialize, and be active that the capital region has to offer. However, as temperatures rise, so too do the risks of heat stress exacerbating underlying chronic conditions or even negatively affecting prescription medications.
As usual, the best defense against heat stress is staying informed, prepared, and flexible. To help get you started, we have pulled together a few ideas and tips that seniors can use to balance safety with fun, even when the temperatures are reaching triple digits.
Take It Inside
Don’t let the summer heat spoil your plans! When it is too hot for your usual walk, bike ride, golf game, tennis match, or chores in the garden, find a way to take your favorite activities inside so you still get that blood pumping.
Many local gyms, community centers, and fitness facilities offer discounted rates or charge fees that are covered by Medicare Advantage plans, so check their course schedule for spinning classes or an indoor track. For the golfers, check out Topgolf to continue to work on your swing or even invite the grandkids to putt-putt and practice your short game.
The same goes for green thumbs; many florists and community centers offer gardening courses and workshops for beginning and advanced gardeners alike. Finally, for walkers, find a local mall or museum to tour and get in those steps.
If you choose to enjoy an outdoor activity when the mercury is rising, make sure to invite a friend or family member along with you. Not only can you enjoy new experiences together, but using this buddy system can also help the both of you stay alert to the signs of heat stress, remind each other to drink water, or get help, if need be.
Signs of heat stress can include heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, paleness, and cramps, among others. Make sure to seek medical help if you notice any of these symptoms.
Skip the Stove
The D.C. area has an abundance of farmers markets, stores with organic produce, and boutique storefronts that sell unique ingredients and exotic foods. So why not take advantage of the area’s diversity and find new recipes that allow you to skip the stove?
Not only does using the stove and oven heat up your home, but cold foods like fruit salads, salads with locally sourced ingredients and vegetables, yogurt parfaits, mocktails, and chilled pastas and pasta salads are also a tasty and healthy way to stay refreshed. While you are at it, add fresh lemon to your water to add some flavor and encourage yourself to stay hydrated.
Know Your Limits
During the summer, you can go from feeling refreshed and full of energy one moment to exhausted and parched the next. That is why it is important to time your activities well, plan for plenty of breaks, dress appropriately, and make sure to stay hydrated.
Your body needs more water than you likely think it does — especially during the summer. Ask a doctor how much you should be drinking given your care plan, but generally speaking, you need to be drinking before you are thirsty. Similarly, make use of early morning and evening hours when the day’s temperatures are cooler and there is less direct sunlight to avoid during outdoor activities.
With a little preparation and due diligence, everyone can still enjoy the summer months and stay safe doing it. Fortunately, not only are there many options in this area, but heat-related illnesses are also preventable if you know the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
If you are looking for more ideas or are curious about how the residents at Arbor Terrace Waugh Chapel are getting the most out of the dog days of summer, contact us to learn more!