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Heat-Related Illness & Ways to Keep Seniors Safe

Exposure to too much heat is unhealthy for people of any age, but it is especially dangerous for those who are older or have underlying health issues. Quickly getting out of intense heat is essential if a senior is experiencing any sort of heat-related illness, below we’ll look at some warning signs to watch out for and some steps to take to ensure their safety during hot summer weather.

Signs of Trouble

How can you tell if a senior is experiencing too much heat? Some of the warning signs include:

  • Showing signs of confusion
  • Experiencing a feeling of faintness
  • Experiencing dizziness
  • Feeling tightening of muscles in the stomach, legs or arms (known as heat cramps)
  • Clammy skin
  • Sudden swelling of ankles and feet
  • Weakness, nausea and rapid pulse during or after exposure to heat

Many common medications used by seniors may worsen such symptoms of hyperthermia or overexposure to heat. To keep them safe, the following steps must be taken at the onset of symptoms:

  • Get them into a cool place or at least in the shade
  • Elevate the legs
  • Give them plain, cool water to sip
  • Get medical attention if the symptoms don’t ease within half of an hour or less

Remember that heatstroke can come on quickly. If a senior (or anyone) exposed to extremes of heat should faint, seem agitated or confused, show signs of flushing or growing red, seem dry-mouthed or stop sweating, and experience a rapid pulse, it could be heatstroke. This means that medical attention is required immediately.

Reduce Risks of Heat-Related Illness

So, how can caregivers reduce the risks of heat-related illness in their loved ones? It is remarkably simple to do so and includes:

  • Installing air conditioning in the senior’s living space, if possible. If not, use fans to keep air flowing
  • Limit the use of the oven to keep interior spaces cool
  • Keep the blinds down, and shades or curtains drawn during the heat of the day, and open the windows after dark to allow cool air into the home
  • If the home is too hot, take the senior for a car trip using the vehicle’s air conditioning and pay a visit to a cool place, such as a local mall, senior center, the library, a movie theater, or even a friend’s home
  • Be sure that the senior is drinking plenty of non-caffeinated liquid, such as cool water or unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices. Ask a doctor about the best fluids based on a senior’s medication regimen
  • Make sure the senior is dressed for the weather. Many overdress habitually and may put themselves at risk by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and even a sweater in the heat
  • Limit their exercise and activities during the hottest days and prevent them from going outdoors for exercise if the weather is too hot
  • Encourage cooler water use during bathing

Enduring high heat and humidity are challenging for people of all ages. Help your loved one avoid risks by using the tips above, and they should have a healthier and happier summer.

Assisted’s professional caregivers are trained to look out for the health and wellbeing of their patients and can help prevent heat-related illnesses from occurring. Visit www.AssistedCares.com to learn more about the services we offer.

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