3 Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness in Seniors
Overexposure to heat can be dangerous for anyone.
Overexposure to heat can be dangerous for anyone. This is especially true for older adults or anyone with preexisting health conditions. Hyperthermia categorizes several conditions that occur when your body can’t regulate the heat of your environment and your body temperature rises too high. The risk of hyperthermia increases with age and can lead to complications due to heat-related illness.
Fortunately, hyperthermia is preventable. Fatigue, nausea, confusion, or dizziness are all common signs of heat stress and indicate your body’s need to cool down. Reduce the risk of heat-related illness with these simple preventative solutions.
1. Keep Hydrated
It’s important that you stay hydrated. Thirst is a sign that your body is already suffering from heat stress. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink. Drink plenty of fluids while avoiding sugary or alcoholic drinks, which can cause your body to lose more fluids. As your body sweats, it loses valuable salt and minerals that must be replaced. A sports drink is a quick way to boost your body’s salt and mineral levels. If you have chronic conditions, are on a low-salt diet, or your doctor limits your water intake, consult with your doctor to learn suitable levels during high heat.
2. Stay Cool
Keeping cool is one of the most important steps in preventing heat-related illness. There are many ways to keep your body temperature cool:
- Stay inside air-conditioned places as much as possible. If your home does not have air conditioning, visit locations that do, such as a mall, friend or family member’s house, movie theater, senior center, or library. Take a car or senior transportation service to the location to avoid being outside for too long. Call your local health department for heat-relief shelters in your area.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Minimize use of oven or stove.
- Take a cool bath or shower.
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Sunburn increases dehydration and limits your body’s ability to effectively cool down.
- Reduce exercise and outdoor activities. Keep a slow pace, and if at any time you feel confused, light-headed, weak, or faint—stop all activity and get into a cool, shaded area.
3. Stay Informed and Plan Activities Accordingly
Stay informed with the latest updates for weather conditions. If you’re caring for a senior, check the local news for extreme heat alerts and learn the signs of heat-related illness, which can lead to confusion and unconsciousness. Seniors 65 and older are more susceptible. It’s important to monitor the condition of the senior in your care and check on them at least twice a day during a heatwave.
When scheduling activities, limit them to the cooler parts of the day, such as mornings and evenings. Make sure to rest more often and seek shade.
At the Mission at Agua Fria Senior Living, we carefully monitor our residents and provide a safe and comfortable space no matter the weather conditions. We offer a variety of services and amenities, including carefully planned activities and transportation services so your senior can safely beat the heat. Contact us today and learn how you can get the assistance you desire and the independence you deserve.