June has arrived; and though summer officially begins in about three weeks, the time for outdoor activities and vacations is here. Here in the Midwest, extreme heat could arrive any day, bringing with it danger for aging individuals. According to the CDC, persons older than 65 years of age are more prone to heat stress. This is because they do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. Additionally, they are more likely to have medical conditions or take medications that change the body’s ability to respond to heat.
When the temperature rises, it is wise to check in on older relatives and neighbors. Be aware of any conditions or medications that place them at greater risks. Also be aware of factors that may be a barrier to them taking care of themselves during warmer weather. For example, some may be concerned about their energy bills when they use the air conditioner. Other factors may be fluid restrictions due to medication or impaired reasoning skills.
Individuals and caregivers should take the following steps to protect from heat-related health issues.
- If possible, remain indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
- Use air conditioning; go to the library, mall or other public space if needed.
- Avoid strenuous activity.
- Wear lightweight clothing.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
Even when precautions are taken, elderly persons should be monitored for signs of heat-related illness. Signs of heat exhaustion require immediate action: faintness or dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea or vomiting, rapid and weak pulse, and muscle cramps. If these symptoms occur, get to a cooler place, drink water and take a cool shower or use cool compresses.
Heat stroke is even more serious and requires emergency medical care. It can have lasting effects. The following symptoms require an immediate call to 911: throbbing headache, inability to sweat, body temperature above 103, nausea or vomiting, rapid and strong pulse, and loss of consciousness.
Our Accucare caregivers are available to help with a variety of in-home health care services. We can assist your loved one with the daily activities that will keep them well throughout the hot summer months. We provide on-site first aid services to large venues in the St. Louis area, where we are sometimes called upon to identify the symptoms of heat related illnesses. Our professional medical staff is on call to assist our caregivers with meeting the needs of our clients. If you need help with keeping your loved one safe throughout the summer, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.