Protecting seniors from heat stroke is important as they grow older because as we age the summer heat affects us differently. Our bodies become less efficient at regulating temperature and we don’t sweat as much as we once did. We also store fat differently. These two differences complicate heat regulation in the elderly.
Some of the things that can put us at risk of becoming ill from the heat are:
- Wearing too many items of clothing. Since many seniors tend to feel cold, even in warmer weather, they may end up overdressed for the heat.
- Becoming dehydrated. Dehydration occurs before you actually feel thirsty so make sure you keep track of your fluid intake.
- Living in warm quarters that aren’t air-conditioned. As the heat rises during the summer, the warmth indoors gradually builds up and many seniors don’t notice that they are becoming over heated.
Once heat stroke occurs, you will notice confusion in the older person. Their pulse may become rapid and they’ll feel faint. Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. To protect seniors against heat stroke, follow the guidelines below when the weather is hot.
During the hottest part of the day, stay indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned environment. If you must go out try to time your outings for when the sun isn’t as strong – before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
Dehydration can contribute to other things besides heat stroke so up your fluid intake. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can worsen dehydration. Drink water and juices before you feel thirsty.
Take it easy
Extremely hot and humid days are not the times for exercising or overdoing it. Find something quiet and relaxing that you enjoy doing, which won’t be strenuous.
Humid weather make it more difficult for your body to produce sweat. If you must go outdoors, dress in appropriate clothing, something light weight and loose. Bring a bottle of water and watch for signs of heat related illness in the elderly. The summer months are meant for enjoyment and we can enjoy them more if we take steps to be careful in the heat. To read more on heat stroke in seniors, click here.