Seniors beware: You may be at higher risk for heat-related illness
Wow, summer is here and boy do we know it! The heat and humidity definitely made their appearance this week.
Each year in the U.S., exposure to excessive natural heat results in hundreds of deaths, primarily among older people.
Heat waves contribute to deaths of the elderly because an older person's body temperature may rise when he or she is unable to rid the body of excess heat or when the body produces too much heat.
Seniors have a harder time adjusting to higher temperatures and humidity than younger individuals. In addition, certain medical conditions and medications can predispose seniors to heat related illness.
The faster you move, the faster your body gets heated up. Seniors should take it slow in the summer, especially when it is hot. All outdoor activities should be planned for early mornings when it is cooler. Use the shaded areas under trees or covered porches.
Air conditioning should be used when it is very hot and fans are not enough. If you do not have air conditioning at your home, visit public places like shopping malls or libraries that do.
Proper ventilation is essential so the temperature and humidity do not become very high.
Seniors should plan ahead for outings. They should wear light colored, loose fitting, cool clothing (preferably cotton) and use head coverings like hats or caps. Because seniors' skin is sensitive, they should use SPF sun blocks of 30 or more and avoid direct sun as much as possible.
Also avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages as much as possible, as they accelerate dehydration. Drink plain water or sports drinks.
To make a homemade rehydration drink, mix half a teaspoon salt, three to four tablespoons sugar, half a teaspoon baking soda and a one-quarter teaspoon salt lite or other salt substitute in a quart of water. This drink is not suitable for children younger than 12.
Beware of exhaustion symptoms, which include mild nausea, lightheadedness, faintheadedness, vomiting, clammy or cold hands and excessive sweating.
The symptoms of heat stroke include strong pulse, body temperature above 104 degrees, hot, dry skin and mental confusion. Contact your local emergency team or 911 immediately when heat stroke symptoms are detected.
Over 55 getaways
Thursday, July 16 - RedHead Express at Watertown-Mayer High school. Branson's newest family attraction. Cost is $54.
Thursday, August 13 -Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City. 12:10 p.m. game time. Cost is $25.
Contact Mary at the Douglas County Senior Office at (320) 762-3047 for more information.