Are Seniors At A Greater Risk For Over Heating?
With the mild winter temperatures comes the extreme heat of the summer. Florida heat can be dangerous for anyone not use to it; however, seniors are at an even greater risk for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Older adults 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. Seniors are also taking multiple prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.
One of the major benefits of living in Florida is the mild winters. This is why a large portion of retirees move to Florida. According to the State of Florida Census Bureau, over 21% of the current population is over 65. This doesn’t include snowbirds who are still residents in other states that choose to spend winters in Florida.
What Is Heat Exhaustion And Heat Stroke?
Heat exhaustion is the first sign of the body overheating. Heat exhaustion is usually accompanied by a fever no higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, excessive thirst, nausea, fainting, cool and clammy skin, weakness, muscle aches, heavy sweating, slow heartbeat, and dizziness.
The Mayo Clinic defines heatstroke as a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.
What can seniors do to protect themselves from heatstroke?
Since elevated body temperature is the cause of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, it’s important to take steps to keep the body temperature down. When you have any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, it’s important to take the necessary steps to reduce your body heat.
The CDC Recommends The Following:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
- Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
- Drink more water than usual, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- If your doctor limits the amount of fluids, you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
If you are a caretaker for a senior, it is important to check on them frequently during very hot days to ensure their safety. Make sure that they have access to air conditioning and are drinking enough fluids. Do an evaluation to understand if they are experiencing heat exhaustion. Look for slow heartbeats, heavy sweating, and cool clammy skin. Make sure they understand what the symptoms are and what they need to do to take care of themselves.
Seek immediate medical attention if there are any heat illness signs, including fainting, nausea, vomiting, or muscle cramps.