The warm summer months provide wonderful opportunities for older adults to celebrate with family and friends: graduations, picnics, pool parties, and enjoying the beauty of nature. Yet it’s important to be aware of heat-related dangers that can sneak up quickly on seniors, and to know what to do to help seniors in hot weather stay cool and comfortable.
Take note of the following three conditions, and what to do if suspected in a senior :
Heat cramps. When the body is overworked and overheated, cramping in the legs, arms, or stomach can occur, and although the person’s pulse and body temperature will remain in a normal range, the skin will become damp and cool to the touch. A senior experiencing heat cramps should go into an air-conditioned room or a shaded area and drink plenty of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids.
Heat syncope. If an older adult suddenly experiences dizziness or faintness in hot weather, this can be an indication of heat syncope, a condition that can be further exacerbated when taking a beta blocker prescription for the heart. Again, it’s important to get the senior to a cool environment and provide fluids, particularly water. Elevating the legs is also helpful.
Heat exhaustion/stroke. Feelings of weakness, dizziness, thirst, and nausea are symptomatic of heat exhaustion, along with cold, clammy skin, sweating, and possibly a rapid pulse. Fluids and rest in a cool location are crucial to prevent heat exhaustion from progressing to heat stroke – a medical emergency that displays with symptoms of:
- Elevated body temperature (over 104 degrees)
- Confusion, agitation, or other behavioral changes
- Flushed, dry skin and change in pulse – either rapid or slowed
If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 for immediate medical assistance.
Heat-related complications are most common in older adults with heart, lung, or kidney problems, those who are underweight or overweight, or who take medications such as sedatives, diuretics, tranquilizers, and certain types of blood pressure and heart medicine.
Help seniors prevent these conditions by encouraging them to stay hydrated, keep the home as cool as possible, and avoid being outdoors during the hottest times of day.
THE MEDICAL TEAM is always here to provide additional tips and guidance to ensure seniors are healthy and safe, whatever the weather! Contact our in-home care professionals to learn more about the senior care services we provide throughout New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, and the metro DC area.