Summer tips for seniors: Stay in air conditioning, drink plenty of water

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Summer can be dangerous for elderly and frail individuals, who are especially prone to heat-related injuries. But taking certain precautions can reduce these risks.

The elderly are less able to adapt to hot weather, and typically have a reduced "thirst reflex" that can prevent them from drinking adequate amounts of water, according to Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, founder of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging. The elderly should not be left in un-air-conditioned spaces for too long, and should be checked twice daily for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, he and other researchers suggest.

Dr. Larry Mellick of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta offers some tips for preventing heat-related injury. He suggests avoiding hot or heavy meals before going outside, avoiding alcoholic or sugary beverages, and drinking plenty of water, even if you're not thirsty. Outdoor activities should be scheduled for early morning or earlier in the evening, and frequent breaks should be taken in shady areas, to allow the body to cool down, he suggests.