How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Seniors
A recent University of Chicago Medical Center study discovered that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65. Out of all heat related illnesses, heat stroke is the most serious. It can cause brain damage and even death if the body isn’t cooled quickly.
The elderly are more vulnerable to heat stroke because possible medical conditions make adapting to heat more difficult and prescription medications can cause dehydration. Fortunately, a few simple precautions can keep seniors safe during periods of extreme heat:
Dehydration is the main cause of heat-related illnesses. Make sure your loved ones drink plenty of water or juice even when they are not thirsty. It is also helpful to avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they tend to dehydrate the body.
Wear appropriate clothes
Make sure your elderly parents wear light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothing to help stay cool. When spending time outdoors, it’s also a good idea to wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella to guard from the sun.
When it’s extremely hot out, seniors should avoid outdoor exercise or strenuous activity. If they want to exercise, it is best to do it indoors or in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler. Also, be sure they take frequent breaks.
Seek air conditioned environments
If your elderly parents do not have working air conditioning in their homes during severe heat, take them to the mall or to see a movie to keep them in a cool area. You can also suggest that they take a cold bath or shower. Fans and swamp coolers may also help.
Knowing the warning signs of heat-related illnesses can also help protect your loved ones from heat stroke:
- An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Throbbing headache
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
During extreme heat waves, visit your older family members daily to watch for signs. If you observe any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately and move them to a cool area. Provide them with wet towels or lead them to a cold shower to quickly cool their body down.
When the summer temperatures are high, it is important, to check on your loved ones regularly and encourage them to increase their fluid intake, It will help prevent heat stroke and improve their overall health.