All during the long, cold winter, we eagerly anticipated the warmth of summer. What a relief to finally throw open the windows and let the warm breezes blow through the house! However, now that we are approaching the middle of the dog days of summer, it is critical to take preventative measures and familiarize ourselves with the warning signs of heat stroke in seniors to ensure loved ones stay safe all season long.
Why Heat and Humidity Impacts Seniors Differently
We all know that kids can spend hours playing outside during the summertime, hardly breaking a sweat. Young adults are out gardening, mowing the lawn, even exercising despite the heat and humidity. For older adults, however, there are physiological differences that noticeably increase the risk for dangerous health issues when the weather warms up. Poor circulation, inefficient sweat glands, chronic illnesses, medications, and much more are not unusual in aging, and may bring on:
- Heat stroke
- Heat edema
- Heat syncope
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
- And more
Signs to Watch for
Keep an eye out for these symptoms any time a senior you love spends time in the heat and humidity:
- A body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (indicating heat stroke)
- Confusion, agitation, along with other behavioral changes
- Delirium or coma
- Flushed, dry skin
- A rapid, strong pulse
- Lack of sweating
How to Help
If you notice these warning signs, the individual needs immediate medical attention. Call 911 and have the senior lie down in a cooler environment. Place a cool, damp cloth on the older adult’s wrists, neck, armpits, and groin. If possible, have the person sip on water or juice, but nothing with caffeine or alcohol. A spray bottle full of chilled water may also be used to mist the senior.
The very best plan of action, however, is prevention. Following these strategies will help older adults safely enjoy the summer season:
- Stay in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible, particularly through the hottest parts of the day. Outdoor activities should be planned during the morning hours or evening.
- Make sure the older adult stays hydrated. Plain water as well as carbohydrate-electrolyte beverages (like Gatorade) are recommended.
- When outside, look for shaded locations, avoiding over-exertion.
- Select light-colored clothing in breathable materials, such as linen or cotton, together with a wide-brimmed hat.
- Always wear sunscreen.
Inspired Home Care, providers of award-winning elder care in Wilmette and nearby areas, is here to help make the warm weather enjoyable and safe for older adults. We can:
- Make sure seniors are drinking an abundance of fluids
- Take care of housework, meal preparation, and other chores around the home
- Provide transportation to enjoyable, air-conditioned excursions such as the mall, museums, or the library
- Engage in enjoyable activities at home, such as arts and crafts and favorite interests and hobbies
- And a great deal more
Reach out to us at 847-787-7572 for a free in-home assessment for more information about our top-rated at home elder care in Wilmette and the surrounding areas. For a complete list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Locations Served page.