How to Keep Seniors Safe in Extreme Heat

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There’s a lot of great things about summer—sunny days, day trips to the beach, ice cream, barbeques. But then there are the not-so-great aspects, like the extreme heat and unbearable humidity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults age 65 and over are more prone to heat-related problems. The CDC refers to this as “heat stress”, and it’s no summer stroll in the park…

The summer’s sudden changes in temperature can put seniors in extreme danger. notes that seniors over 65 don’t sweat as much as younger adults. Why is this dangerous? When you are exposed to extreme heat, your internal body temperature rises which is why seniors suffer from heatstroke more often than younger people.

Signs that it may be getting a little too toasty

Be on the lookout for certain signs and symptoms of heatstroke.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Redness of the face or body
  • Nausea
  • High body temperature above 103°F
  • Rapid pulse

Heat exhaustion is common for seniors when temperatures outside start to rise. In this case, you may notice:

  • Fast and weak pulse
  • Breathing is fast and shallow
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Fainting
  • Paleness

How to respond

First things first, get out of the heat. Cooldown as soon as possible by spraying the senior with a garden hose or sponge them with cool water. If you’re able, immerse the person in a tub of cool water or wrap them in a cool wet sheet while fanning them vigorously. If symptoms are severe, you may need to call for medical assistance.

How to avoid heat-related medical emergencies

  • Stay hydrated. We don’t mean lemonade and spritzers. Good old fashion water is what the body craves. When temperatures start to rise, drink, drink, drink! Investing in a reusable water bottle will help seniors stay consistent with their water intake throughout the day.
  • Wear light-weight clothing. Save the layers and comfy sweaters for those cozy snow days. Stick to light, breathable fabrics on those extra hot days. Be sure to grab a hat, sunglasses, and some sunscreen if heading outdoors.
  • Opt for air-conditioning. Limit the amount of exposure to extreme temperatures. If you’re looking to get out of the house, plan for activities where there’s shade or air conditioner to ensure the senior can escape from the heat.
  • Be sure to take frequent rests throughout the day and listen to the body! The intense temperatures can put a lot of stress on the body. Have the senior relax, put their feet up, and decompress periodically throughout the day. This will give their body a chance to face the stressors of the hot day.
  • Avoid strenuous activity. No need to get all that yard work done or clean out the garage on those hot days. Take it easy! If the senior is looking for some exercise opt for an indoor workout. Use the hot summer day as an opportunity to hang out under an umbrella or close to the water.

MetroCare of Springfield’s Group Adult Foster Care and Adult Foster Care programs give seniors the independence they crave, and the reassurance families need. Our 24/7 care options make daily living activities easier, safer, and more convenient for our members. Learn more about our programs.

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