Extreme temperatures during the summer months can pose health risks for seniors.
The CDC notes adults 65 and older do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature, making them more vulnerable to heat-related health problems.
Home Instead encourages families to take the following steps to help keep their loved ones safe:
• Make sure your aging loved one takes preventive health measures – like preparing for summer heat exposure by choosing protective clothing. Mayo Clinic recommends wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to allow the body to better cool itself naturally. Adding a broad-brimmed hat or cap can also help keep internal temperatures low and protect from sunburn.
• Plan ahead to avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. Many activities such as running errands or visiting friends and family members should be scheduled for the morning or evening hours, when temperatures are lower, and the sun is less intense.
• Pay attention to symptoms of heat-related health problems. The University of Connecticut found that older adults are the most susceptible demographic to dehydration due to reduced kidney function that occurs naturally as we age, as well as the frequent use of diuretics often taken for high blood pressure. Be aware of muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, constipation or impaired memory or concentration function, which can signal dehydration.
• Take action to cool someone experiencing heat-related symptoms. Once a symptom is identified, immediate action is critical to treat the senior and prevent escalation. Mayo Clinic shares three steps: get the person in the shade, indoors and out of the heat, remove any excess clothing to help the body breathe and cool the person with whatever means available.
• Monitor and/or assist with medications. According to a survey conducted by Home Instead, many seniors taking five or more prescription medications admit challenges in managing their medications. Education is key to managing medications more efficiently and avoiding any mishaps. This is particularly important during the summer months.
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