Hot weather is dangerous! As the temperatures increase, older adults are more prone to harmful effects. As we age, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to adjust and react to sudden changes in temperature.
Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all a serious concern for the elderly. It is important to know the warning signs and take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses. In fact, about 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. are among people over 65, according to The University of Chicago Medical Center.
Tips for Beating the Heat
Drink Plenty of Water
Did you know that 60% of your body is made of water? Water is necessary for our bodies to function and helps maintain blood circulation, supply nutrients, remove wastes and maintain body temperature. Not having enough water in your body can reduce energy and make you feel tired. Don’t wait to drink until you’re thirsty. It is recommended to drink at least 6-8 cups of water per day.
As we age, we are more at risk for dehydration due to:
- Less able to respond to temperature changes
- Decreased sense of thirst
- Less able to conserve water
- Forgetting to eat/drink
Check the weather and be aware of the temperature before planning your day. During hot temperatures, beat the heat by staying indoors in air-conditioned places such as the shopping mall, movie theatre, museums, church, etc. If you do venture outdoors, plan your activities for early in the morning or later in the evening. Try to avoid being outside mid-day when the temps will be at the highest.
Dress for the Weather
Always be aware of the temperature and plan your attire appropriately. Clothing that is light-colored and loose-fitting can be cooler and more comfortable to move around in the heat. Also, 100% cotton fabrics allow for more air flow and can help you stay cool.
Know the Warning Signs
Know the warning signs of heat-related illness and seek help immediately if you experience flushed skin, nausea, vomiting, headache, difficulty breathing, fainting, chest pain, confusion, or rapid pulse.
References: Care.com; Geriatrics Consult: Rosemary Laird, MD; HTS Inc.