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July 08, 2014

Turning the AC Off: Is It Safe for Older Adults in the Summer?

Summer heat can be dangerous for everyone, but it can be especially dangerous for older adults. As you age, your body doesn’t adjust to heat as well as it used to. Thanks to poorer circulation and less efficient sweating, older adults might not even recognize the signs of overheating until they are already in danger.

Often, poor circulation makes older adults feel cold when they’re in air-conditioned spaces. Running the AC can also be costly, so it’s not much of a surprise that many older adults prefer to keep their air conditioning turned up or off.

However, if you aren’t going to run your AC in the summer, you still need to ensure your house and your body stays safe and cool. It’s also important to recognize signs of overheating so you can take proper precautions and address the issue before it becomes too serious.

3 Tips to Keep Your House Cool Without the AC

  1. Make use of fans. If you don’t want to spend the money to cool the entire house at once, make use of ceiling fans or portable fans to cool down one room at a time. They’ll save energy and can be more easily catered to personal preferences. Also double check the direction of your fan blades—you want them to run counterclockwise in the summer. 
  2. Keep the blinds or shades closed. By blocking out sunlight, you can keep a room naturally cool without having to turn on the AC.
  3. Avoid cooking with the stove or the oven. Using your stove or oven will work to heat up the house. Instead, choose to cook out on your grill, make use of your crock-pot, or enjoy a cold meal. 

5 Steps to Take if You Begin to Feel Overheated

Reducing your AC use can be perfectly safe for older adults, but you still need to be prepared to react to potential overheating. Feeling confused, lightheaded, or dizzy are all potential signs of heatstroke. Seek help immediately if you feel any of these symptoms. While you wait for help—or before the need strikes—try taking these five steps to cool your body down.

  1. Remove as much clothing as possible. Shed any extra layers of clothing you might be wearing to attempt to cool your body down. 
  2. Get indoors. If feeling overheated is a result of being outside for too long, seek refuge indoors, preferably near an air conditioner. 
  3. Apply a cold compress or ice pack. The back of the neck, wrists, and insides of the elbows are all natural cooling points for your body. Rubbing ice or cold water there will help cool down your body faster. 
  4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink lots of fluids, preferably cold water. If you don’t have water handy, the majority of liquids will help to hydrate you, but steer clear of caffeinated drinks and alcohol. 
  5. Have a frozen treat. Popsicles with high water content and low sugar content are the best choice. 

For more tips on staying safe and cool this summer, check out this blog.

Remain Independent



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