Did you grow up where the summers were hot and humid: without air conditioning; sleeping uncovered and spread out as if you were going to be frisked by a city cop; where you emptied the dehumidifier every morning; and when you got out of the car, the back of your shirt was drenched with sweat? We may not have liked it, but we found ways to stay cool and lived to tell about it!
But we’re older now and summer heat can cause major health problems particularly dehydration. The Oregon Department of Human Services cautions, “Not getting enough fluids each day can take a tremendous toll on every aspect of bodily functions, including possible changes in memory, vision, and kidney and heart function.” This is especially true for older adults because the percentage of a person’s weight in water changes significantly as we age. Consequently, any decrease in fluid consumption can cause proportionately more dehydration.
But according to the American Red Cross, heat related problems can be prevented by “staying cool, hydrated and informed”.
If you do need to go outside during extreme heat conditions, early morning or later evening are the best times. Avoid sun exposure between 11 am – 5 pm. Wear light-weight, light-colored and loose fitting clothes that cover your skin. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Slow down – additional activity can put extra strain on the heart. And ice packs and cool showers are still a nice relief from the heat – just as they were when we were younger.
Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your level of activity even if you are not thirsty – and enough to have to urinate every four hours. (I wish I could last four hours!) Remember not all fluids are beneficial – avoid sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks.
Stay informed and connected with family, friends and neighbors.
During any heat advisory, it is a good idea to check in on your friends and have them check in on you. A broken air conditioner can be a life threatening situation.
Know the signs of heat stroke: high body temperature (104 F or higher); altered mental state or behavior; changes in sweating; nausea or vomiting; flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, and headaches. If you notice any of these symptoms call 911.
The heat should be taken seriously. It is the number one weather related killer causing more deaths than hurricanes, tornadoes, lightening and floods combined. By staying cool, hydrated and informed, you can avoid serious heat related illnesses. And in six months we’ll be longing for the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
Betty Harlan was manager of The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels until she retired, but she didn’t go far. These days you can still find her volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels. To celebrate the 30+ years she has contributed to Meals-on-Wheels, there will be a Birthday Party for Betty on June 14th during the noon meal. (I’m not sure whether she is turning 48 or 84.) There is a beach theme so you can dress appropriately if you wish, but please – no bikinis.
Every Tuesday night at the Center there is music for your dancing and listening enjoyment. But for June 14th, I have to juggle the line-up so at this time I am not sure who will be playing. But I promise there will be someone – so you can dance the night away. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are always appreciated.
Bob Dylan’s first big hit that he recorded in the summer of 1965 was “Like a Rolling Stone”. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Bill Van Nice.)
With the death of Mohammed Ali, it brought back memories of February, 1964 when the fast talking, quick footed Cassius Clay shocked the world of boxing by winning the World Heavyweight Championship. For this week’s “Remember When” question who was the fighter he beat – considered the most intimidating fighter of the time? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with picture of this boxer knocking out heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in the first round.
Well, it’s been another week looking for the bread in the oven. Until we meet again, we don’t always say what we mean – or mean what we say.
“The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free.” ― Robert Brault