Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q: How do I beat the summer heat?

A: Even the most stalwart Florida native will admit it gets stifling hot during our long summers. While too much heat is not safe for anyone, seniors can be especially vulnerable to the heat.



There are physiological changes that occur with aging that affect our bodies’ ability to regulate temperature. The Cleveland Clinic notes, “…our body distribution changes — including our body fat percentage, muscle mass, skin and sweat glands.” Older adults may have chronic health conditions that affect the body’s response to temperature. Some medications may increase sensitivity to sunlight or alter your ability to sweat.


Heat-related illnesses

               ~Heat syncope is a feeling of dizziness associated with activity in hot weather. This can occur with common activities like walking or gardening. People taking beta-blockers are quite susceptible to this. If you start to feel dizzy, it is important to stop, cool down and rest.

               ~Heat cramps are muscle cramps that occur from a lack of electrolytes. Do you hear me, golf, tennis and pickle ball players? Electrolytes are essential minerals that play a crucial role in various bodily processes. Heat cramps can be particularly severe in people taking diuretic medications for high blood pressure. Sports rehydration drinks or electrolyte-infused water or juices will replenish electrolytes quickly.

               ~Heat edema can cause swelling to your feet, ankles and hands. Sometimes you can also get a red discoloration on the skin from the edema and a rash in areas that sweat. Put your feet up to reduce swelling and use powders to soothe the rash. Check with your doctor if the swelling and/or rash does not go away in a day or so.

               ~Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can become life-threatening. Heat exhaustion is the warning that your body is overheating. You might feel dizzy, weak, uncoordinated and nauseated. Your skin may become clammy. With heat stroke, the body is at a life-threatening temperature and cannot cool itself. A person having a heat stroke may faint, have rapid breathing and a racing heart rate. Heat stroke is a medical emergency–call 911.


Tips for staying cool

Stay inside during the hottest time of the day. Avoid using your kitchen oven on really hot days. Limit alcohol and dehydrating, caffeinated beverages. When you venture outdoors, seek the shade when possible and protect yourself with lightweight, loose clothing that covers your skin. Consider “cooling” gadgets like neck fans and towels. And if you are going to be outside and sweating — bring a big beverage with you! Learn more at ‘Beat the Heat’ July 12 at One Senior Place in Viera. RSVP to 321-751-6771.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.