You may have heard the old wives’ tale of someone’s achy knee predicting a storm or a migraine that’s forecasting a hot day. How much of these are real, and how much are just folklore?
Unsurprisingly, the weather plays a powerful role in our health and can sometimes directly affect the way we feel and what’s going on inside our bodies. So, while an achy joint doesn’t exactly predict a storm, there could be more of a connection than you realize.
With retirement communities across the country, HarborChase Senior Living is aware that weather conditions fluctuate by location and season. (Some places even exhibit all the seasons in one day!) We’re listing common instances when the weather and season can bring about certain health concerns and how to manage them.
Hot and Humid Weather
High Blood Pressure
Extreme humidity levels can have serious impacts on those living with high blood pressure. High temperatures paired with high humidity causes the heart to work much harder to do its job.
In fact, on an extremely hot and humid day, the heart may circulate twice as much blood compared to a cool day. For someone with high blood pressure, these circumstances can elevate already high blood pressure levels.
As we get older, it’s harder for our bodies to regulate temperatures. Because of this, we become more susceptible to heat stress and exhaustion. Make sure you’re taking precautions on especially hot days.
Staying Healthy in The Heat
With a significant number of retirement communities in Florida, HarborChase Senior Living knows that humid weather, especially in the south, is unavoidable. Older adults, especially those with high blood pressure or other health conditions, need to take extra precautions on hot and humid summer days. Here are some ways to manage your health and avoid heat-related concerns this summer:
- Stay Hydrated. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Wearing lightweight, loose clothes on a humid day will aid in evaporating sweat and cooling you down.
- Stay inside. The best way to avoid a heat-related crisis is to avoid the heat altogether.
Summer can be an enjoyable time with outdoor activities and family get-togethers, so make sure that you’re aware of the signs of heat-related complications and are taking all precautions to stay safe and healthy.
Weakened Immune System
Just about everyone is vulnerable to the notorious “common cold” that shows up during the winter or colder weather. During cold weather, our immune systems are compromised and are unable to put up their normal defensives.
In addition, as we age, our immune system becomes even less effective, which is why older adults are at such high risk for viruses and infections. As a result, children, older adults, and those living with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk for contracting an illness during the cold weather. Fortunately, vaccines like the flu shot do a great job of strengthening the body’s immunity during winter
Cold weather can also put individuals at risk of hypothermia. You might think that hypothermia only occurs when you’ve been in sub-zero temperatures for hours, but hypothermia sets in when the core body temperature is less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to underlying health conditions, medications, or age itself, older adults can be more vulnerable to experiencing hypothermia. Fortunately, it’s easily prevented.
Staying Healthy in The Cold
While winter and cold weather can present certain health challenges for those at risk, there are simple ways to avoid cold weather-related concerns! Here are some tips on staying safe and healthy during cold weather:
- Bundle up! Even if you are going on a short walk to the mailbox, make sure you’re wearing several layers of clothing to keep yourself warm. Also, always wear a hat and gloves to avoid losing warmth through your head and hands.
- Keep your home warm. When it’s really cold outside, make sure your home is set to a warm temperature of at least 68 degrees. To aid in keeping the warm air central, close doors of unused rooms and spaces.
Dry Weather Climates
During winter (or summer, depending on where you are), the air can get dry. Continually breathing in dry air can impact your health and wellness. Typically, the sinuses and respiratory tract are full of moisture, but during dry weather, these moistures can dry up, leading to respiratory and breathing problems.
Staying Healthy in Dry Weather
Extremely dry weather conditions can be a nuisance, but luckily there are several ways to combat the dryness and feel your best.
- Use a humidifier. Using a humidifier in your home is one of the most effective ways to avoid dry weather health concerns. By adding moisture to the air, you can prevent your respiratory system from drying out and causing problems.
- Stay hydrated. Just like in the hot summer, it’s also important to up your hydration in dry winter weather. Drinking more water will help counter the moisture that your body is losing in the dry air.
Managing Your Health All Year Long
Whether you live in a hot and humid climate or a cold and dry one, it can be helpful to understand the different effects that varying weather conditions can have on your health. By understanding these impacts and being prepared, you can ensure that you are safe and healthy for whatever weather comes your way!