The hot summer months are here and our elderly population should be wary of the sky rocketing temperatures.
According to the CDC, there were 7,233 heat related deaths from 1999 – 2009 in the U.S. Victims of a heat stroke may experience nausea, confusion, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps, lack of sweating, fainting and rapid heart rate. If you are experiencing these conditions after spending a prolonged period in the heat, you should seek medical help immediately and if you believe you are suffering a heat stroke, call 911.
The Mayo Clinic suggests taking precautions during heightened heat alerts during the summer months. To help our senior citizens stay cool, they recommend:
- Seek a cooler place - Air conditioned buildings are a great place to spend time or cool down during the unusually hot conditions. Often times it is a good idea just to avoid being outside during the 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM time period. Many people rely on a fan to stay cool, but in extreme heat, it may not be enough to cool your body down to safe levels. Also avoid wearing dark colors.
- Wear loose fitting or lightweight clothing - it is a good idea to wear loose or lightweight clothing to give your body a chance to cool properly. Also, to protect your eyes, wear a comfortable pair of sunglasses.
- Always avoid sunburn - it is an excellent idea to protect your skin by wearing sun screen, a large hat, and raise an umbrella. When you get too much sun, it prevents your body from getting rid of the heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids - to avoid dehydration, it is a very good idea to drink lots of water and even sports drinks. Stay away from any alcoholic beverages because they can contribute to dehydration. If you wait to drink liquids when you are thirsty, often times it is too late.
- Take extra care with medications- sometimes taking medications can make you more susceptible to the heat, so you may check with your physician to determine what you should do to prevent being overheated.
According to the CDC, people who are 65 and older have a tougher time adjusting to the heat and are more prone to heat stress. CDC recommends to tune into weather updates, stay in touch with your neighbors, get plenty of rest and try not to take on strenuous activity. If you think you are suffering from a heat related illness, remember to seek medical attention.