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Cooling Off Seniors

It’s extremely important to stay cool in the summer, especially here in Florida with our high heat and humidity. Heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related death in the US, causing hundreds each year (National Weather Service). This is especially true for children and older Americans. As we age, our bodies become less efficient, and we can’t regulate our body temperature as well. This alone makes keeping seniors cool a priority.

So how do we keep them cool? Well The Heritage at Lowman as a great article on how to keep seniors cool during summer. They have tips like adding fruit to water for added taste, to walk around an indoor mall if your home doesn’t have AC, and to dress in light colored, loose-fitting clothes.

Keeping Seniors Cool During Summer’s Heat
the Heritage at Lowman

According the National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related death in the United States, causing hundreds of fatalities each year. Older adults are even more susceptible to the dangers of heat, as they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Additionally, as we grow older, our bodies become less efficient at regulating body temperature. Seniors are also more likely to have a health condition or be taking medications that make it more difficult for the body to regulate its temperature or to perspire.

The importance of staying hydrated

Just as our sensitivity to heat dulls as we age, so does our awareness of thirst. This, along with our body’s decreased ability to conserve water as we grow older, puts seniors at greater risk of dehydration. Summer heat adds to the risk, because on hot days, the body loses water more quickly. Here are some tips for staying hydrated this summer:

  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to take in fluids. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can cause the body to lose even more fluid.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruit, a wonderful source of fluids.
  • Add fresh lemon or lime to your water to add a little flavor.
  • Use water to dilute fruit juices, making them last longer and increasing your fluid intake.
  • Get creative! Make “mocktails,” like nonalcoholic daiquiris and piña coladas.

If you are on a fluid-restricted diet, consult your physician about how to get the fluids you need during the hot summer months.

Read more of the article on their website


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Staying Cool

It’s the dog days of summer, especially here in Florida.  We’ve gone over how to keep yourself safe in a hurricane if you’re elderly or infirm, so we thought it would be a good time to go over how to stay safe in the heat.  What to look out for, what to do, and what preventative measures you can take, straight from the Centers for Disease Control!

Elderly people (that is, people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:

  • Elderly people 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 impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

You can follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from heat-related stress:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)
  • Rest.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
  • If possible, seek an air-conditioned environment. (If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned shopping mall or public library to cool off.)
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • If possible, remain indoors in the heat of the day.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activities.

What You Can Do to Help Protect Elderly Relatives and Neighbors

If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:

  • Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level.
    Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.

What You Can Do for Someone With Heat Stress

If you see any signs of severe heat stress, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the affected person. Do the following:

  • Get the person to a shady area.
  • Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°–102°F
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the person alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.