Staying cool is a top priority during our hot Arizona summers. It’s a challenge to strike the right balance between getting outside and staying protected from the sun. However, it’s a matter of life and death for many older adults. Excessive heat can dramatically impact even the healthiest of seniors, making summer safety awareness all the more critical. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe during the hotter months without sacrificing your summer plans.
The Risks of Heat For Seniors
It’s easy to shrug off a little sweat during a big heat wave, but don’t ignore the signs of your body overheating. The longer your body remains in extreme heat, the worse symptoms will get. Here are a few conditions to look out for when the weather gets hot.
- Heat syncope is characterized by feeling faint after exertion in warmer weather. This condition significantly affects people taking beta-blockers or heart medicine, as well as people who aren’t accustomed to the heat.
- Heat cramps affect the muscles in your arms, legs, or stomach and can be quite painful. Dehydration due to excessive sweating causes these symptoms, and they are often associated with heavy exercise in the heat.
- Heat edema causes swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, or hands when a person is overheated. As heat causes blood vessels to expand, blood begins to settle in your extremities.
- Heat exhaustion is a severe condition that occurs when your body struggles to remain cool enough to function. Its symptoms include dizziness, thirst, weakness, lack of coordination, and nausea. You may notice yourself sweating excessively and feeling cold and clammy.
In all these cases, you should find a cool, shady place to rest and hydrate until you feel better. However, the worse your symptoms get, the more at risk you are for a far more serious condition: heat stroke.
Heat Stroke Is Dangerous
Heat stroke is an emergency and requires medical attention right away. If you’ve remained in a hot place without hydration and have progressed past the effects of heat exhaustion, you’re at high risk for heat stroke. Symptoms include fainting or unconsciousness, confusion, agitation, strange behavior, dry flushed skin, and a lack of sweating. A person suffering from heat stroke will often have a temperature over 104°F and may experience either a rapid pulse or a slow, weak pulse.
Sadly, most people who die from heat stroke are over 50. Many seniors may experience several factors that put them at greater risk for heat stroke. Reduced perspiration is typical with many normal skin changes that come with aging. But, it can also impact your body’s ability to cool itself down. Preexisting health conditions (especially heart-related) and certain medications can also put you at greater risk in hot weather.
How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke
The first step to staying safe from heat stroke this summer is always being on the lookout for the first signs that the heat is affecting you. Begin taking steps to cool down and hydrate as soon as you notice the initial signs that your body is overheated, . Drink lots of water or juice throughout the day, and avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine as they can dehydrate you further. Wearing light-colored, breathable clothing made from natural fibers such as linen or cotton can help you stay cooler.
Staying cool is also essential when you’re indoors. If you live in a place without air conditioning, you might consider going to a cooler location during the hottest part of the day. A shopping mall, senior center, library, or movie theater can offer a respite from the worst of the heat. If you have to stay home, try to keep air circulating in your home and keep your blinds closed during the hottest and brightest parts of the day. By opening windows in the cooler mornings and evenings and then shutting them as it gets hotter outside, you can trap cooler air indoors and avoid radiant heat from the sun.
Protecting yourself from the heat is crucially important this summer. However, many seniors may struggle to find transportation to cooler locations or have a friend or family member nearby to monitor them for the signs of heat stroke. Working with an in-home caregiver can provide the best balance of safety and freedom when temperatures rise. A caregiver can help ensure seniors are adequately hydrating and be a helpful companion for seniors who don’t want to let the hot weather slow them down.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.