Summer is finally here and even though we can’t wait to have fun in the sun there are precautions needed. People aged 65 years or older are more prone to heat-related health problems. If you’re an older adult or a caretaker there are several steps to take to stay safe during the heat.
Why are older adults more prone to heat stress?
- Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
- They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
- They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.
Stay cool, stay hydrated
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, contact your local health department (In some localities free air conditioners may be provided) or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area (i.e.- public library or local cooling center).
- Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.
- Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Check the local news for health and safety updates.
- Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting or other possible heat related illness.
When taking care of our older loved ones it is vital to keep a close eye on those in your care by visiting them at least twice a day, and ask yourself these questions:
- Are they drinking enough water?
- Do they have access to air conditioning?
- Do they know how to keep cool?
- Do they show any signs of heat stress?