Thanks to the recent amazing weather, we have a new phrase in our vocabulary – cooling center.
Television broadcasters used the phrase liberally and some stations ran a ticker at the bottom of the screen listing centers in several counties.
You probably know that cooling centers are places that have air conditioning, places you can go in warm weather to get cool and try to beat the heat.
During the past week, libraries and senior centers were cooling centers. They welcomed people with open arms to help them fight the hot weather we were experiencing. Cold water was offered in some centers and often snacks, too.
High heat can do terrible things to our bodies. It can make us very tired, it can “dry us out” and make us feel miserable. This is especially true if you do not have air conditioning. In fact, in Buckley, one church called all their seniors to see if they were all right or needed help cooling off. That is the kind of thing all our churches should do.
We can do things to try to make ourselves a bit more comfortable, though, during warm days, but we do not need to wait until the temperatures reach 100 degrees. These ideas will benefit you during temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
The first thing we need to is to increase the amount of water we drink. On very warm or hot days we tend to get dehydrated. Being dehydrated means your body is getting dryer inside – tissues, organs, eyes, nose, joints etc. They do not work as well as they should.
Some of the things water does for you include:
• keeping us cool so the high temperature will not bother us as much
• keeping our joints lubricated so they will not be unnecessarily stiff
• maintaining correct moisture levels in our eyes, nose and mouth reducing irritation
• helping our kidney and colon work efficiently
• keeping our skin stay moist
• maintaining proper muscle tone so we can move easily
• helping us just feel better.
As we age, for some reason, we begin to lose our sense of thirst and increase the risk of dehydration. If we get dehydrated we can reverse all the benefits of drinking listed above.
The other problems being dehydrated can lead to are symptoms of mental confusion, visual problems, memory problems, dizziness which can all be mistaken for symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
I remember years ago when a student told me that her cousin was being tested for Alzheimer’s. She remembered what I had told the class about dehydration. Cheryl told her cousin to drink more water and she found the confusion symptoms went away in a few weeks. That is remarkable.
How much water should you drink? The general recommendation is six to eight glasses every day. What? You say “no” because you will have to spend all day in the bathroom? No, you will not. Very warm weather requires us to drink more water to prevent heat exhaustion, illness and being overly fatigued.
Remember, it is water or juice we need to drink. Coffee, tea or Coke do not count as they contain caffeine which is a diuretic. A diuretic’s job is to pull water out of your system, so these drinks defeat your purpose of drinking those six to eight glasses.
While the juice of a watermelon counts, as does your favorite Popsicle, water is the best choice for us. We are fortunate to have excellent drinking water in our communities. Keep a pitcher in your refrigerator always ready because, for some reason, really cold water is easiest to drink and seems more refreshing.
If you live in an area where water has a strong mineral taste, purchase a pitcher with a filter in it to remove the harsh taste.
You have a couple of other options to cool off. You could take in an afternoon movie at one of our local theaters. You could also walk around in your local grocery store and sit in the area where they have tables and chairs. In addition, you could buy a fan.
By now the big push to buy fans should be over and stores should be restocking their shelves. Buy one to put in the room in which you spend the most time and, if possible, buy one to put in your bedroom.
Keeping cool requires positive action. We need to drink water and stay cool – whether we go to a senior center, a library, grocery store or a movie or buy fans, it is up to us to do all we can.
What about your neighbors and family? Invite them over for the day or evening if you have air conditioning. Call to find out if they are all right.
At the start I could not drink a lot of water. Now I find that if I do not drink four glasses, outside of meals, I just feel “dry” and sluggish. Give it a try.
Seniors, be brave. Go to a cooling center even if the temperature is just in the 80s. Drink water and juice. Get a fan or two if you do not have air conditioning and cool off – the summer is not over yet. Most of all, stay safe.