Late spring was very wet this year in Indianapolis, but now that the solstice has passed and summer is officially here, it looks like sunnier, hotter weather is ahead. That’s good news for an-yone who was beginning to feel like they had wound up in Seattle instead of Indiana, but it does mean some health and safety precautions need to be taken to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other seasonal maladies that can affect the very young, the very old, and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, from sports enthusiasts to outdoor pets.
The first trick to beating the heat is to stay inside. Plan activities like board games, scrapbooking, book club, crafts, or indoor exercise during the hottest parts of the day, from about noon to four in the afternoon. Staying indoors is also a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays during the part of the day when they are strongest. Save outdoor activities for the evening when it’s cooler— that’s a great time to tend to the garden, go to a baseball game, or take an after-diner stroll with loved ones.
Whether your summer fun is indoors or out, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Elderly people and those with chronic illnesses are especially susceptible to dehydration for a variety of factors. As we age, our bodies naturally retain less water, and kidney function may be reduced. Some medica-tions can also compromise the body’s ability to retain water. Seniors also may experience re-duced thirst or trouble swallowing, affecting their desire for fluids. Sipping on water, rather than tea, coffee, or soda, throughout the day, regardless of cravings can keep you hydrated. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already critically dehydrated.
There are many more serious side effects of dehydration than thirst to be aware of. One of the benefits of being a Morningside resident is the caring staff members who are trained in identifying such symptoms and keeping residents healthy. However, friendly and family may want to take note, as heat exhaustion and dehydration can affect people of any age. Symptoms can include mouth dryness, infrequent urination or urine that is a dark or deep yellow, cramping in limbs, headaches, the inability to cry tears, a general feeling of weakness or malaise, low blood pressure, rapid but weak pulse, dry or sunken eyes, or change in pace of breath.
Spending time indoors out of the heat is a great way to reduce the chances of chronic or dan-gerous dehydration. Fortunately, Indiana is a great place to enjoy cool summer pastimes as much as fun in the sun. Grab a milkshake from Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream after enjoying the exhibits and programing at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana Medical History Museum, or the the Museum of Miniature Houses. Walk through a local shopping mall or go to see a movie to get a few extra hours of relief from the heat.
Indianapolis is a wonderful place to enjoy summer fun. You can pack in even more enjoyment simply by being safe and aware about how to stay hydrated and keep cool when temperatures spike!