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Heat Danger for Older Adults

Medical staff holding a hand

With temperatures increasing, also on the rise for older adults is the likelihood of suffering from a heat-related health problem. There are several reasons why older adults are more prone to heat issues. First, older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature. They are also more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes the way the body normally responds to heat. Finally, the prescription medicines they take are more likely to affect their body’s ability to control temperature or sweat. Below are some things you or your loved one can do to stay safe in the heat. 

Staying cool and hydrated are major factors in lessening the impact of hot weather. With most homes in our area lacking central air conditioning, there are other ways you can stay cool. 

  • Wear loose, lightweight, or light-colored clothing. This type of clothing allows air to flow over your skin, helping sweat evaporate keeping you cool. 

  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down. Remember as a kid running through a sprinkler or being sprayed with a hose and how good that felt? While it won’t lower your core body temperature, it will help you feel some relief. 

  • Drink more water than usual on those warm days. Staying hydrated not only helps your body function properly, but it also helps regulate your body temperature and flush out waste. If your primary care provider limits the amount of water you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much water you should drink in the hot weather. 

  • Do not engage in strenuous activities and try to get plenty of rest. In times of high humidity, your body cannot use sweat to cool itself. Without one of the most important ways of getting rid of extra heat, you may suffer from heat exhaustion. 

  • Avoid hot and heavy meals. The act of eating itself creates heat, while foods high in fat take more energy to metabolize and can cause you to feel even warmer.  

During warmer weather, don’t forget about your older relatives and neighbors. Call or stop in to check on them and make sure they are feeling well. If you or someone you know is suffering from a headache, confusion, dizziness, or nausea, it could be a sign of a heat-related illness. Visit the Gibson Family Health Clinic or the Emergency Department at Helen Newberry Joy Hospital to find out if you need treatment.