Thirsty for summer? Seniors, take care!

Are you feeling listless? Headachy? Not yourself? Maybe the temperature is getting to you.

It’s especially easy for seniors, who are more susceptible to heat stroke, to overdo it on long, sunny days.

You nip out for a walk around the block but, feeling marvelous, turn the 10-minute leg warmer into an hour-long trek. Or you pause to pull a single weed, then find yourself immersed in a serious gardening session. And I bet you’re caught without a hat. Or sunscreen.

Before you know it, you feel a little woozy. Or terribly hot.

As we age, our bodies deal less well with changes in temperature. And those with hypertension, COPD, heart disease, or Parkinson’s are at even greater risk of heat stress.

Soaring temperatures are Mother Nature’s not-so-subtle way of saying: “Cool it!” Some basic advice? Take it easy, stay inside or, when necessary, seek air-conditioned spaces. If you do, take along a light wool sweater to temper the chilling effect.

Heat’s partner-in-crime, dehydration, also hits seniors harder. Your body’s ability to hold water is reduced, and your ability to feel thirst is hampered.

Sip cold water or, if that’s too dull, add fruit — I love fresh-pressed citrus mixed with water and ice, or iced tea with lots of tangy lemon. I recently heard something that sounds wacky — does carrying half an onion in your armpit really ward off heat stroke?

I don’t know, but I do know warning signs for heat stroke and heat exhaustion, thanks to the Mayo Clinic’s excellent website:

  • High body temperature (104F/40C or higher)
  • Flushed skin
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Racing pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Altered behavior (confusion, delirium, slurred speech)

Need to cool down? Do it in any way possible, says the Mayo: a hose, ice packs, a wet sponge, a fan while misting your skin, or wet towels on the head, neck, armpits (hmm, maybe there is something to that onion tip) and groin.

Or stay cool in the first place:

  • Choose a broad-brimmed hat and loose, light clothing.
  • Avoid sun from 11 to 4. Love those early-morning walks!
  • Never sit and swelter in a parked car.

Despite the heat, I just love summer and — being a vegetable freak — eating my way though every garden-fresh veggie… even onions!


Make your own fresh-fruit infused water.


Tips for sleeping on hot nights.


Quick recipes for cool salads.

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