When it comes to seniors and the heat you can never be too careful. There are a variety of inherent dangers that come with the summer months such as dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses.
High temperatures and humidity can be uncomfortable for anyone, but for seniors these factors can be particularly impactful as seniors’ bodies don’t react as quickly as they once did to shifts in temperature. The result can be overheating and that can lead to serious medical situations if left unchecked.
If a senior is showing any signs of heat exhaustion or illness, including cold and pale skin, nausea, extreme sweating, feeling light-headed, severe thirst, increased pulse or elevated body temperatures, you must call 911 immediately. These are all symptoms of serious heat-related illness.
But this can all be prevented by following these four tips to help seniors cope with heat and humidity.
1. Stay Hydrated
Water is essential for seniors in elevated temperatures. But you should also make sure they drink plenty of electrolytes such as potassium or sodium, as these can be expelled from the body when we sweat. Avoid sugary sodas, caffeine, and anything with alcohol as these will all dehydrate the body and make it more difficult to manage in the heat. Keeping the body properly hydrated will stave off headaches, nausea and other common heat symptoms.
Seniors take a lot of important prescription medications, some of which that have side effects that can be elevated or made more severe in summer weather. Always be sure to check what kind of interactions a senior’s medication might have with hot temperatures. Some medications can have an adverse effect on dealing with the heat and make them more vulnerable to developing heat illnesses. Fluids are important with many medications that can contribute to the loss of electrolytes and other nutrients that help the body stay hydrated.
3. Dress Properly
Seniors can beat the heat by wearing the right clothing. That means choosing loose-fitting apparel, nothing too tight or constricting. This will help the body regulate its temperature effectively. It’s also important to choose fabrics that are all-natural, such as cotton or silk, and always make sure to go with lighter colors that resist the sun and heat. Darker colors will only do the opposite and that can put seniors at greater risk of heat exhaustion and sunstroke.
Seniors shouldn’t be left in homes or rooms without proper air conditioning for extended periods of time. Even a powerful fan is going to prove insufficient as the temperatures rise, because it will only continue to circulate warm air. For those especially hot days, seniors should visit places that have ample air-conditioning such as malls, restaurants, a movie theatre, any place that can help them beat the heat. This is absolutely vital for the proper regulation of body temperature.
If you are or know a senior who may be susceptible to suffering heat-related symptoms, Seniors Helping Seniors is here to assist that individual in the hot weather months that can be the most difficult to endure alone.