The Arizona heat is on and it’s a good time for helping seniors, who are much more vulnerable to heat-related illness, to stay cool and safe. A new study found that more than 40% of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are suffered by people over the age of 65, and these conditions can lead to hospitalization and even death. Thankfully, however, most episodes of heat-related illness can be prevented.
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are serious medical conditions that will need immediate, urgent attention to avoid serious complication. The symptoms that often present are loss of appetite, confusion, dry mouth, poor skin elasticity, muscle cramping, nausea, headache, dizziness, fainting, and rapid heart rate.
There are several factors that contribute to overheating among seniors. Our ability to notice changes in body temperature and to respond to our thirst triggers lessens with age, leading to dehydration. Obesity and health conditions such as heart disease make it difficult to keep the body cool. Dementia and diabetes are among conditions that diminish the sensations in the body that trigger thirst and seeking cooler environments. And, use of some medications can cause dehydration, leading to heat-related illness.
There are many things that can easily be done to ensure your loved one is protected from heat-related illness. Here are a few reminders:
- Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. Remind your loved one to do errands and spend time outdoors at sunrise and after the sun is down in Arizona. Keep an eye on the weather reports and heat index to know when your loved one can safety venture outdoors.
- Eat lightly and drink plenty of liquids. Keep refreshing beverages such as water and juices on hand with reminders to drink often. Also remind your loved one to avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate the body.
- Wear light colored loose-fitting clothing. This will help deflect the sun’s rays and allow for air circulation, keeping the body cooler.
- Ensure air conditioners and fans are in working order and serviced when not. It’s a good idea to ensure maintenance checks and filter changes are done on equipment prior to the hot weather arrival to ensure your loved one is in cool comfort.
- Touch your loved one. If he or she is feeling hot to the touch, evaluate for symptoms and help get hydrating and cooling measures in place. If symptoms above are noted and cooling measures aren’t working, it may be time for a trip to the emergency room.
Nightingale Homecare of Phoenix is dedicated to helping seniors remain healthy throughout the brutal Arizona summer heat by providing expert in-home care services to ensure the home environment is safe and cool, that plenty of cold beverages and healthy foods are available, and by providing the friendly companionship that brings joy to each and every day. Contact us at 602-504-1555 to learn more!
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