Elderly are more prone to heat stress
Now that summer is finally here, I thought it might be appropriate to remind everyone about heat stress in the elderly. People older than the age of 65 are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:
--People older than 65 do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
--They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
--They are more likely to be taking prescription medications that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that could possibly inhibit perspiration.
Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106 degrees F or higher within 10-15 minutes. This can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
--Body temperature more than 103 degrees F.
--Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating).
--Rapid, strong pulse.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
--Nausea or vomiting.
--Skin may be cool and moist.
--Pulse rate is fast and weak.
--Breathing is fast and shallow.
What you can do to protect yourself:
--Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
--Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
--Seek an air conditioned environment.
--Wear lightweight clothing.
--Do not engage in strenuous activities.
--Remain indoors during the heat of the day, if possible.
What you can do to help protect your elderly relatives or neighbors:
--Check on them and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
--Encourage them to increase their fluid intake of cool, nonalcoholic drinks (if their doctor limits their amount of fluid, have them check with their doctor on how much they should drink).
--If they do not have air conditioning, invite them over or take them to an air conditioned location.
What you can do for someone with heat stress:
--Get them to a shady area.
--Cool the person rapidly. Put them in a tub of cool water, or cool shower. Sponge them with cool water.
--Monitor their body temperature and continue cooling until their body temperature is down to 101-102.
--Call 911 and ask them for further instructions.
--Do not give them alcohol to drink.
--Get medical assistance as soon as possible.