Q: After decades of slogging through cold winters, I am now retired in sunny Arizona. Even if I've been enjoying the different weather and culture here, I'm still not used to the heat.
A few people around my retirement community are finding themselves in the same boat, and apparently, we should watch out for heatstroke and other problems.
How can we take care of ourselves in the heat?
A: When you know it's hot out, keep an eye on yourself and any warning signs.
Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heatstroke, functioning as a warning sign that your body is overheating. The Mayo Clinic designates signs of heat exhaustion as heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and severe headaches. Your skin becomes cool and moist, even forming goosebumps.
To treat heat exhaustion, you should quickly cool your body using cool air, ice, water or cooling blankets. If you're outside, get back indoors to air conditioning.
If you find yourself tipping over into heatstroke, it's time to get medical care. The hallmarks of heatstroke are sweating, confusion and even seizures.
Heatstrokes are more dangerous than you might think — especially for seniors — and have a high mortality rate.
The best treatment is prevention. Instead of letting yourself succumb to the heat, take care of yourself by wearing lightweight (and light-colored!) clothing with a loose fit. Stay inside with air conditioning or fans.
If you want to get outside, plan ahead. Schedule outdoor activities or walks for cooler times of the day, avoiding the midday sun (especially around 3 p.m., when the heat peaks). — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
THE RIGHT FIT
Q: My feet are killing me. Thankfully it's not literal, but they do hurt very badly. I'm having trouble getting around because the mid arches of my feet are sore all the time. The foot pain is also affecting my balance, and I'm afraid of having a fall.
What can I do to make myself more comfortable?
A: Think about your shoes. Poorly fitting shoes cause or exacerbate a large variety of foot-related ailments, and seniors have different needs than younger people.
Ill-fitting shoes, on top of pain and stability issues, can also cause sprains and fractures. Older adults generally have lower arches and wider feet, ankles and insteps.
If you think a looser shoe will fix this, think again! Oversized shoes can shorten your stride, slow you down and alter your gait.
Look for soles with a broader surface area to address your balance. Firm insoles are more likely to help your posture than soft ones.
Do you have arch supports? You can have these custom-made for your foot.
If you have a history of wearing high heels, you may be seeing the effects of years of damage. Unfortunately, some longtime wearers experience pain when switching back to flat shoes.
When seniors do wear heels, they should look for lower heels with a broader base to provide more support.
Another cause of arch pain is carrying around extra weight, which is unfortunately harder to fix than ill-fitting shoes. If your foot pain is relatively recent, have you had any other changes in your body? Although we tend to think of our problems in isolation, our bodies are a system of interrelated parts.
If the problems continue, find a podiatrist. Because they're specialists, they've seen it all and may be able to diagnose a more esoteric cause of your discomfort.
Taking the right steps to fix your problem will see results! — Doug
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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