A recent study from the University of Chicago Medical Center reports that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were in people over age 65. The Mayo Clinic explains that there are several reasons why older adults are more susceptible to dehydration including “their ability to conserve water is reduced, thirst sensation is less acute, and seniors do not respond to fluctuations in temperature as well as when they were younger.”
The National Institute on Aging also cites other factors why the elderly do not fare well in extreme heat conditions such as heart and blood vessels problems and less effective sweat glands. In addition heart, lung, or kidney disease can weaken individuals and often cause fevers. Medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers and other heart and blood pressure medicines can inhibit the body’s ability to cool by sweating or act as a diuretic.
At around the age of 50, our body’s kidneys do not conserve fluid as well as they once did, and by age 70, the problem generally worsens. Also many seniors experience a decrease in appetite and can forgot to drink and eat for long periods of time. Chronic conditions including dementia and diabetes can also interfere with getting enough fluids as well as being overweight or underweight.
Now that the weather is getting warmer, it is more important for seniors to be aware of overheating and to stay hydrated. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include: paleness, heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, tiredness, headache, and rapid, shallow breathing. If you suspect heat exhaustion, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cool place. While you wait for medical assistance, have them lie down, remove any heavy or tight-fitting clothing and apply cold water or compresses directly to the skin. Offer water or juice if they are able to drink.
This post is intended for informational purposes only. Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.
MorningStar of Santa Fe offers the very best in senior living with our distinct mission statement of “to honor, to serve, to invest.” Our foundation is built on honoring God, valuing all seniors and selecting staff with a felt calling to serve to create a true “home” for residents. Situated on the west side of town, we invite you to drop in to our Information Center or give us a call to learn more about the finest assisted living in Santa Fe.