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How to Help Seniors Beat the Heat

Staying cool can be challenging in the summer, especially for older adults. Follow these hot-weather safety tips for seniors to help you or a loved one stay safe and comfortable.

August 08, 2019 | HF Healthy Living Team

As you age, your body’s ability to handle heat changes. Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, but people age 65 and older are at an increased risk of heat-related illnesses.

During hot weather, older adults can overheat if they have poor blood circulation, low sweat production, chronic health conditions, or take prescription medications. This occurs when your body is unable to cool itself and maintain a healthy temperature.

You can experience mild to severe heat-related illnesses such as a heat rash, heat cramps, heat edema (swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot), heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat), heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat kills more than 600 people in the United States every year. That’s why it’s important to make sure you know how to stay safe in the summer heat and keep others safe too.

Here are tips to help you or a senior you know beat the heat this summer.

Stay Healthy

For a safe and happy summer, you can stay healthy in the heat by making sure you

Remember that heat stress can take a different toll on senior health. With the right nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, older adults can stay cool all summer long.

Stay Alert

Check the National Weather Service for heat advisories, excessive heat watch, and excessive heat warning/heat advisory updates. Doing so can help you remember to

  • stay in air-conditioned places.
  • wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothes to keep you cool.
  • apply sunscreen when going outside.

Plus, this can help you prepare for weather warnings in your area and make sure you have the right resources at home to stay cool. With water, cooling units, and the right foods, you can help your older loved ones stay healthy in the heat.

Check in on Family and Friends

When it’s hot and humid out, don’t forget to reach out to your older relatives, friends, and neighbors. Whether they live alone or not, find out if they need any help at home or running errands. You can also check their home to make sure there’s proper ventilation. If there’s a heat emergency, bring your loved one or neighbor to a cooling center near them if needed.

Know the Warning Signs

Heat-related illnesses are preventable, but you should know what to do if you see any warning signs or symptoms in older adults. Here’s what to look for and what to do if you or someone you know experiences discomfort during the hot weather.

  • With heat rashes and sunburn, you can experience skin irritation, redness, and sensitivity. In mild cases, you can keep the area dry, stay in a cool place, and apply an ointment.
  • If you’ve been exercising in the heat, you may experience heat cramps (muscle pains and spasms). In some cases, you may have swollen feet or ankles, which are the results of heat edema. To recover, stop activity, drink water, and rest. If cramps continue or if you have any heart problems, get medical help right away.
  • In cases of heat exhaustion, you may experience symptoms such as heavy sweating, nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and more. You must move to a cool place, sip water, and replace wet clothing if drenched with sweat. If symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour, or if vomiting begins, get medical attention right away.
  • A heat stroke is a life-threatening condition which occurs when you have a high body temperature (103 degrees or higher); red, hot, dry skin; rapid pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; loss of consciousness; and seizures. Call 911 immediately for medical attention. For more details, click here.
 

© 2019 HF Management Services, LLC.

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Sources

“About Extreme Heat,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.html

“Heat Illness,” MedlinePlus. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://medlineplus.gov/heatillness.html

“Heat-Related Illnesses,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30990296

“Heat and Older Adults,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/older-adults-heat.html

“Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults,” National Institute on Aging. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-weather-safety-older-adults

“Nutrition for Older Adults,” MedlinePlus. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://medlineplus.gov/nutritionforolderadults.html

“Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 26, 2019.
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html

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