Excessive heat is not safe for anyone. If you are older or have underlying health problems, your risk is higher. It is important to get out of the heat quickly and cool down.
How can I reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses?
You don’t have to be physically active to suffer from a heat-related illness. Just spending time in excessive heat can cause problems.
Take several steps to prevent heat-related illness in seniors.
- Drink plenty of water
- Stay away from beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine. If your doctor tells you to limit fluid intake, ask what to do in hot weather.
- If you live in a house or apartment without fans or air conditioning, try to keep your house cool. Limit your use of the oven. Close the blinds, blinds or curtains during the hottest part of the day. Open the windows at night.
- If your home is very hot, try going to some places with air conditioning in the middle of the day. For example, head to a shopping mall, movie theater, library, senior center, or friend’s house. If you need help getting to a cool place, ask a friend or family member. Some religious groups, senior centers, and regional senior agencies provide cooling centers. If necessary, take a taxi or call senior transportation. Don’t stay outside waiting for the bus in hot weather. Phoenix Home Care & Hospice can help transport an elderly loved one to a cooling center, if necessary.
- Dress suitable for hot weather. Some people find that natural fabrics (like cotton) are cooler than synthetic fibers.
- Do not try to exercise outside or do many activities in hot weather.
- Avoid crowded places when it’s hot outside.
What are the symptoms of heat-related illnesses?
Clinical staff at Phoenix Home Care & Hospice are trained to recognize symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, in patients.
Symptoms of heat-related illness include:
Confusion. Your senior loved one may mispronounce words, not realize where they are, or not understand what you’re saying.
Sudden dizziness. Certain heart medications may exacerbate dizziness. Rest in a cool place, raise your legs and drink water to make the feeling of dizziness disappear.
Muscle cramping. Heat cramps are pain and tension in the muscles of the abdomen, arms, or legs. Cramps can be caused by hard work or exercise, as well as excessive heat. Although your body temperature and pulse generally remain normal during heat cramps, your skin may feel clammy and cold. Find a way to cool down your body by resting in shade or a cool building and drinking water.
Swelling of the ankles or feet. Raise your legs to help reduce swelling, while trying to cool off.
What are the dangers of heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a warning that the body cannot keep cool. It is much more dangerous than heat exhaustion, because your body has reached a point where it has trouble cooling down. Heat stroke can lead to death.
You may feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, and nauseated. You can sweat a lot. Your body temperature may remain normal, but your skin may feel cold and clammy. Some people with heatstroke have a faster pulse. Rest in the shade and drink plenty of water. If you do not feel better soon, seek medical attention immediately. Heat stroke may cause your heart to stop beating.
How can Phoenix Home Care & Hospice help you?
As temperatures begin to rise, so does risk for senior citizens. If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, pay special attention to them during this time. As always, if you ever feel concern then call for medical help immediately. Contact Phoenix Home Care & Hospice with any questions.