Tips for seniors to stay safe in the summertime heat
With the weather in North Georgia starting to really heat up, it is a good time to think about summer safety. Extreme heat is one of the most dangerous situations for seniors. In fact, seniors are believed to account for 40% of all extreme heat related deaths in the United States. Some studies have shown that as we age, our bodies do not alert us to heat related problems as well as it did in younger years. Many seniors do not feel thirsty even when they are near dehydration. They do not necessarily feel hot even inextremely hot weather.
Symptoms of HeatStroke:
· High BodyTemperature
· Absence of Sweating/Redness of skin
· Rapid Pulse
· Difficulty Breathing
· Strange Behavior
· Nausea and Vomiting
Air conditioning is one of the best ways to beat the heat, but let's face it even in 2012, not everyone has air conditioning. Seniors without air conditioning should at least be using fans to keep air circulating. Most would do well to get out of the house during the latter afternoon portion of the day when temperatures rise to extremely dangerous levels. Having a caregiver or family member take a senior to do grocery shopping, visit friends or to social events at a local senior center can both get the senior out of the house and into an air conditioned environment; as well as provide stimulating social interaction.
For those seniors who can't get out every day, a check in call twice a day is highly recommended. Heat stroke, where the body temperature rises in excess of 106 degrees can happen in a very short time for individuals in high risk categories. Seniors and anyone who is sick or overweight definitely falls into a high risk category.
Above all, drink lots of fluids. Drinking cool, non-alcoholic beverages at an increased intake level is a smart way to help the body replace valuable fluids lost when the body sweats to cool itself. Family and caregivers can help to encourage lots of liquids and can help by keeping a variety of beverages to choose from in stock in the home. We encourage our caregivers by reminding them that thirst is a great reminder to drink something. Since seniors often are not as thirsty, caregivers are encouraged to get the senior and themselves a drink when the caregiver feels thirsty. This helps both client and caregiver to stay energetic and feeling great.
And as always, if heat exhaustion or heat stroke does occur,seek medical help by calling your doctor or dialing 911 in an emergency.
To find out more of how you can protect yourself and your loved ones in extreme heat, check out the Centers for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness Pages.