Scotland isn’t known for its hot summer months so when we do get some sunshine, we all want to make the most of it. It’s important to remember though that when the temperature goes up it can present health risks – especially for older people.
As we age, our body becomes less efficient at regulating our temperature, and this can be exacerbated by some types of medication. Some individuals are at greater risk, for example people living with dementia, heart problems (because the heart must work harder to pump extra blood to help cool your body down) or reduced mobility (which could make some tasks such as opening and closing windows or getting a drink of water more difficult).
By taking a few sensible precautions ourselves, and checking in with the older people you know, we can make sure everyone is able to make the best of the warmer weather.
Top tips for staying cool in a heatwave
- Stay cool inside during the hottest time of the day from late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out use sunscreen of factor 15 or above, wear a hat and stay in the shade if you can. Keep your house cool by keeping curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun.
- Limit strenuous activities like housework and gardening – most chores will keep until its cooler.
- Drink lots of fluid, whether you are at home or out and about. Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol as they increase the risk of dehydration.
- Watch what you eat:
- Try to have more cold foods such as salads and fruits as they contain a lot of water
- Keep chilled food cold, bacteria grow quickly in warm weather
- Keep hot food hot, particularly make sure barbequed food is cooked right through
- Dress for the sun, light-coloured, loose cotton clothing can help you stay cool in the heat. Let your feet breathe too, wear comfortable sandals which support your feet
- Cool off with cold water, a cool bath, shower or splash of water on your face can help you cool down. .
- Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on TV, radio and online at www.metoffice.gov.uk
Helping each other in the heat
We would also encourage everyone to check in on older neighbours, friends and family to check that they are doing ok and ask if they need anything. Doing a quick run to the shops to pick up some sunscreen or helping to open/close a window to let some fresh air in can make the world of difference to someone’s comfort and wellbeing.
For more tips download our sisters charity Age UK’s publication on ‘Keeping Cool in a heatwave‘ or call the Age Scotland helpling for free on 0800 12 44 222.