Q: I find that high temperatures put me in a bad mood. Do you have any tips for managing the hot weather?
A: Weather often affects our mood, and can really change the way we feel about our day. When the weather is sunny and mild, it can increase good moods and reduce stress. Enjoying a nice day outside with blue skies in a comfortable temperature can be just what we need to make us feel good and energetic.
Rainy days, although few and far between in this area, can immediately change our mood as well. They can make us feel tired and cozy. It may be a good day to change plans and stay inside to watch movies and rest. However, in areas of the country where it rains often, the wet weather will be experienced much more negatively, and has been shown to decrease feelings of life satisfaction.
It is not surprising that hot temperatures also affect our mood. In fact, higher temperatures were found to increase a person’s negative feelings. People are often more irritable when the weather is very hot. I know I can get especially cranky when I feel uncomfortable due to hot weather!
One way to help handle the hotter weather is to modify or change your plans. If you planned a meet up with friends in a park and the temperatures are very high, ask the friends to change the location and perhaps meet at an air-conditioned mall. Check the weather the day before and adjust your plans so you are not forcing an outdoor activity at a time when you know it will make you uncomfortable.
If you cannot change the plans, then prepare ahead of time. Bring a cooler with cold drinks. You can wet a washcloth and freeze it the day before and bring it in your cooler, as well. It will be a nice cool treat to place that cold cloth on your neck when the heat starts to make you uncomfortable. Bring a hat, wear sunscreen, and wear loose fitting comfortable clothing.
Older adults are especially at risk for heat related illnesses. In addition to age, certain health problems put you greater at risk including high blood pressure, conditions treated with diuretics, heart, lung or kidney diseases.
Some age-related changes to the skin may cause poor blood circulation or cause sweat glands not to function properly to cool a person down during a heat wave. Some medications also cause reduced sweating, which prevents the body from self-regulating when hot.
Headache, confusion, dizziness, or nausea can all be signs of a heat related illness. Monitor how you feel and get out of the heat when needed. Drink plenty of fluids. If you are unable to cool down or have these symptoms, seek medical treatment.
If you have older relatives, neighbors, or friends, be sure to check on them during heat waves. Make sure they have a cool place to stay and, if needed, offer to drive them to a cooling center or an air-conditioned location like a library or mall.
Summer can be a welcome time with lots of outdoor events, concerts, and markets. Find safe ways to enjoy the outdoors and modify plans, as needed, to stay safe. Monitor your mood and health to make the most of the summer months.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at email@example.com.