As the summer months continue to warm, it’s important for seniors to actively monitor their own health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans 65-years or older are far more likely than younger people to be hospitalized due to heat-related illnesses. Older Americans are also much more likely to die from the heat. For example, “from 1999-2009, roughly 40 percent of all heat-related deaths in the U.S. – nearly 3,000 – were adults over 65-years old.” That shocking fact illustrates why this is such a pressing issue for the elders in our community. So, with this in mind, here are a few ways seniors can stay healthy this summer.
Watch for Signs of Heat Stroke
According to the CDC, “heat-related illness, also called hyperthermia, is a condition resulting from exposure to extreme heat where the body becomes unable to properly cool, resulting in a rapid rise in body temperature.” The first step in this process is called heat exhaustion. Here, the patient’s skin is typically cool and wet, but their pulse is fast and weak, while breathing is fast and shallow. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle cramping
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
If you believe you’re suffering from heat exhaustion, you should take measures to bring your internal body temperature down. First, retreat to a cool place to rest and drink plenty of cool water. You can also try other cooling measures like taking a cool bath or shower or applying cool wet towels to your skin. If you don’t feel better within an hour, seek medical attention.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which is a serious and life-threatening condition. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- A body temperature greater than 103°F
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Throbbing headache
Untreated heat stroke can cause brain damage and other organ damage and can quickly progress to widespread organ failure and death. If you believe you’re suffering from heat stroke, call 911 right away.
Stay Hydrated & Stay Cool
One of the best ways to avoid succumbing to heat-related illness is to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy for seniors. Decreased sensitivity sometimes means seniors can’t tell when they’re thirsty. Common blood pressure and depression medications used by older people can also cause dehydration. In addition, reduced kidney function — which is a natural part of aging — can make it easier to become dehydrated. Combined together, these factors reveal a profound risk. To combat dehydration and prevent heat-related illness, seniors should make water consumption a habit throughout the day.
Because seniors are more susceptible to dehydration it’s important they stay as cool as possible. Remember to wear light and loose clothing, which makes it easier for the body to cool itself. Seniors who live in homes with air conditioning are at greater risk because it’s much more difficult to escape the heat. To combat this, visit community cooling shelters or indoor areas like malls or movie theaters for relief. Seniors without air conditioning can also use indoor air fans to help keep their home’s temperature under control.
Watch Out for Your Neighbors
Unfortunately, too many of our elders live in isolation, and are forced to look after themselves. If you have an older friend or neighbor, make sure you check in on them regularly during the warm weather. If you’re concerned about an older family member, check in on them as well. That’s not always possible, especially if your older family member lives out of state. In these instances, in-home care can be another great way to keep seniors safe during the summer. Qualified caregivers can keep a watchful eye over their clients to make sure they’re dressed appropriately for the warm weather and staying hydrated. This is especially important in warm-weather states like Arizona, where Generations Home Care is headquartered.
While there’s certainly plenty to enjoy about the summer months, seniors and their family members should vigilantly look out for their health. The season will be so much more enjoyable that way.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasize a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.