Now that spring is upon us it is important for seniors to remember to take precautions as outdoor temperatures begin to heat up. A study from the University of Chicago Medical Center reports extremely hot weather can be dangerous for the elderly and that approximately 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. are in people over the age of 65. Another publication from the Alzheimer’s Association explains why seniors 65 and older are more at risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke than younger people.
One of the reasons stated is that as we age the body does not adjust as well to sudden temperature changes as it did when we were younger. This can be caused by heart or blood vessel problems, under-active sweat glands and normal age-related changes in the skin. Another factor is that many elderly people suffer from chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, or kidney diseases that can affect normal body responses to heat.
Also prescription drugs including diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and some heart and high blood pressure medicines can impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature and inhibit perspiration. Other problems that can make seniors more susceptible to heat-related stress are being overweight and drinking alcoholic beverages.
To avoid the dangers of heat-related illnesses, experts advise seniors to drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages throughout the day, and to stay away from extremely cold beverages as they can cause cramps. They also recommend if possible to remain indoors during the heat of the day and do not engage in strenuous activities. If you feel too warm, take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath, dress in lightweight clothing and get into an air conditioned environment.
This post is for information purposes only; please consult your health care providers with any health concerns.
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