Hot temperatures can be a danger for anyone. For older adults, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a real problem, making a little extra TLC important during time outdoors when it is hot. There are several reasons for elderly heat vulnerability. As we age, the ability to notice changes in our body temperatures decreases. Many older adults have underlying health conditions, and along with the medications taken for those conditions, their bodies are less able to adapt to heat. A few simple precautions are all that is needed to keep your loved one safe from summer’s heat.
Hear are some guidelines for keeping safe in hot weather:
- Drink plenty of liquids. Dehydration is the root of many heat-related health problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks is a smart choice, as they can actually contribute to dehydration.
- Wear appropriate clothing. When it is hot, wear light colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay indoors during mid-day hours. During periods of extreme heat, the best time to run errands or be outdoors is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to be cooler.
- Take it easy. Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors when it is very hot.
- Know the warning signs of heat-related illness. Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that help should be sought.
Dehydration can easily be treated by replacing fluids, but should not be taken lightly by the elderly. Lack of fluids deprives the body of vital nourishment and its ability to cleanse itself. Water plays a vital role in regulating the body’s normal temperature. A good formula for how much water is needed every day is to take one-third of the person’s body weight in pounds and drink the equivalent number of ounces of water daily. For example, a 150-pound woman would need 50 ounces of water daily, or about 6 eight ounce glasses of water. Remember, severe dehydration requires medical attention; if you see any signs or even just suspect it, call your doctor.