As temperatures rise, you may find yourself dreaming of cooler days and looking for ways to beat the heat. Hot weather can make us feel lethargic, weak and physically exhausted especially when humidity is present.
The situation is worse for seniors. Extreme heat and humidity can be life-threatening for this population. There are several factors that contribute to the problem:
- A reduced ability to deal with extreme heat as we age
- Chronic health problems that make our bodies respond poorly to heat
- Medicine which alters or reduces our ability to regulate body temperature
Being aware of the typical signs of heat stress is the first step to prevention. Read on to discover common warning signs.
Three Common Types of Heat Stress
There are several physical responses to excess heat and humidity, which fall under the category of heat stress. The most serious of these are heat strokes. In this case, the body loses the ability to properly regulate temperature. Body temperature typically reaches at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit and sufferers may experience unconsciousness.
Heat stroke victims require emergency care. Keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Excessive body temperature
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid pulse
- Flushed skin that is dry to the touch
Heat exhaustion is typically accompanied by dehydration and occurs after prolonged periods of heat exposure. Sufferers often lose fluids while sweating and may show the following signs:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Moist skin that is cool to the touch
While heat exhaustion is less serious than heat stroke, it still requires care and monitoring. Finally, heat cramps are another type of heat stress. These muscle cramps typically set in during exercising but may occur after. They are most often found in large muscle groups like the calves, shoulders or thighs. Heat cramps can be quite painful and are exacerbated by dehydration.
Prevention and Planning for Seniors
Now that you know more about the common types of heat stress, how can you care for yourself and loved ones?
Be sure to plan ahead for seniors. We all want to enjoy the summer time and stay healthy. Keep the tips below in mind when organizing an outing for seniors and venturing out into extreme heat and humidity:
- Avoid being outdoors during peak hours (typically from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
- Take things slow as temperatures rise – allow yourself to get acclimated before jumping into physical activity
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Ask your doctor about any medicines that may cause dehydration faster and for ideas on how to combat this problem. Be aware of any medicines that impair your ability to regulate heat in a usual way.
- Seek the shade
- Bring handheld fans and water spritzers
- Have emergency contact information and medicines on hand
- Wear light colored clothes made with breathable materials in thin layers if one tends to feel cool
Our team of certified nursing assistant/home health aides and registered nurses are prepared to give your loved ones quality care, no matter the season. Whether you need in-home visits or residential care, you’ll find our staff to be knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate. To learn more about Matrix Home Health Care, contact our specialists today.