Heat Safety Tips for Seniors

With summer in full swing, the weather seems to be getting hotter and hotter by the minute, as heat waves tend to be common in many areas. While it can be nice to sit outside and soak up some Vitamin D, it is also important to remember that the heat can be harmful, and even deadly. 

This is especially relevant for older adults who are at a higher risk of developing heat-related illnesses. With that being said, there are still ways to enjoy the warm weather without experiencing many heat-related symptoms. In this blog, we will discuss four of these. Continue reading to learn about them all! 

1. Drink a lot of water. 

Water is not just refreshing when you are outdoors (or even indoors), it is essential to stay hydrated. And when you are in hot climates, you need more water than usual. To help you remember when to drink more water, try having regular water breaks, and always have an extra bottle with you when you are working or exercising. 

Also, keep in mind that seniors are more susceptible to dehydration. If you or your loved one are able to, consider also drinking sports drinks which include electrolytes, as excess sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. However, if you or your loved one are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic or medical conditions, make sure to speak with a doctor prior to drinking a sports drink or consuming salt tablets.

In addition, if you or your loved one are limited to how much fluid you can drink or happen to take water pills, as many other older adults, make sure to ask your doctor how much water you should be drinking when you are in hot weather.  

2. Wear sunscreen.

We all know about the importance of sunscreen in its ability to help prevent skin cancer, but did you also know that it can help prevent heat-related illnesses? Sunburn actually affects your body’s ability to cool down, and can make you dehydrated. Try applying a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going out, and reapply as directed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends using sunscreens that say broad-spectrum or UVA/UVB because these are the ones that work best. 

3. Check for warning signs of heat-related illnesses.

Do not wait until it is too late to notice that either yourself or your loved one is experiencing a heat-related problem. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention mentions, there are various heat-related illnesses that can occur to individuals. These include: heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn, and heat rash

For example, people who have heat stroke might experience a body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, hot, red, dry, or damp skin, a fast, strong pulse, and many more symptoms. In this case, it is suggested that you call 911 immediately, transition the person to a cool area, try to lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath, and make sure that you do not give the individual anything to drink.

On the contrary, people who are experiencing heat exhaustion might experience heavy sweating, cold, pale, and clammy skin, a fast, weak pulse, and other symptoms. In this case, it is suggested that they transition to a cool area, loosen clothing, place cool, wet cloths on the body or take a cool bath, and sip on water. Seek medical attention immediately if they are vomiting, symptoms become worse, or symptoms last for more than one hour.

These are just a few heat-related illnesses we have mentioned, but there are much more as discussed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They also explain what to do in these scenarios and how to help the person who is experiencing these heat-related illnesses. 

4. Try to be in an air-conditioned location as often as possible. 

Instead of planning all of your summer activities outdoors, consider bringing the fun indoors. Play board games with the family or cook meals inside instead of on the outdoor grill. Staying inside of an air-conditioned location is a key part of cooling down during this time.   

Unfortunately, many seniors may not have air conditioning at home, and fans simply do not help enough when it is too hot. HealthInAging.org shares that The Federal Low-Income Energy Assistance Program helps adults who are age 65 and older who have limited incomes cover the cost of air conditioners as well as utility bills. 

Keep Cool and Stay Healthy

While it is great to spend time with your family even in the warmer climate, it is important that you do what you can to keep cool in the extreme heat and prevent you or your loved one from experiencing any heat-related illnesses that are so common when you are in a hot environment.

If you are taking care of an older adult, try to do what you can to prevent them from experiencing a heat-related illness, as they are more susceptible to the effects of heat.

While there is a lot of helpful information in this blog, these are just some of the recommendations by many of the sources listed above. Of course, there are many more. Continue to learn about heat safety and how you can protect yourself or your loved one from the heat so that you can have a great quality of life, even in warm weather. 

At Royal Estates of El Paso, we do what we can to make sure our residents stay safe and healthy every day. If you want to learn more about how we do this, please visit our website.

How do you make sure you or your loved one stay safe from the heat? 

Sources:

1. “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Extreme Heat.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/faq.html#:~:text=Those%20at%20greatest%20risk%20for,ill%20or%20on%20certain%20medications.. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

2. “Water & Nutrition.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

3. Lehman, Shereen. “Drinking More Water During Hot Weather.” Verywell Fit, https://www.verywellfit.com/drink-more-water-during-hot-weather-2506918. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

4. “Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html#:~:text=Wear%20Sunscreen%3A%20Sunburn%20affects%20your,minutes%20prior%20to%20going%20out.. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

5. “Heat Stress in Older Adults.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/older-adults-heat.html. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

6. “Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

7. “Hot Weather Safety Tips for Older Adults.” HealthInAging.org, https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/hot-weather-safety-tips-older-adults. Accessed 7 August 2020. 

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