While most people are eager to see frosty temperatures give way to the sizzling days of summertime, the heat can bring serious hazards for seniors. For those people age 65 and older, the hot and muggy temperatures increase the possibilities of heat stress. In order to prevent dangerous heat-related conditions, senior caregivers must follow a simple set of principles.
Why is Heat Dangerous to Seniors?
Older adults have an increased sensitivity to high temperatures. This is due to several reasons:
A senior’s body is not capable of efficiently adapting to sudden temperature changes.
A vast majority of older adults are already suffering from chronic medical conditions that negatively affect normal body responses to heat.
Additionally, seniors are more likely to be taking some form of daily medication that keeps the body from properly regulating its core temperature or producing core-cooling sweat.
Prevention Tips for Caregivers
When the wellbeing of an elderly loved one is in your hands, it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge and prevention information. To prevent a senior from overheating, follow these tips:
- Serve beverages that are cool, decaffeinated and non-alcoholic.
- Should a senior be on fluid restrictions per physician’s orders, speak with the doctor and ask if the recommended fluid intake is increased during hot weather months.
- Never serve beverages that are extremely cold, as this can quickly lead to muscle cramps.
- Ensure the senior gets a proper amount of restful sleep.
- In times of heat, taking a cool shower or sponge bath helps to cool the body’s core temperature.
- If at all possible, utilize or install an air conditioner.
- If an air conditioner is out of the question, ensure occupied rooms have adequate ventilation.
- Running a fan helps to promote the evaporation of sweat, cooling the skin in the process.
- Lay out clothing that is lightweight, loose and ventilated.
- Avoid going outside during daylight hours that see the heat index at its highest.
- Never allow a senior to take part in strenuous activities while exposed to heat.
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