8 Facts You Should Know about Summer and Senior CitizensPosted on April 15, 2014 by ElderCare Resources in Blog, Caregiver Education, Education, Home Care Non-Medical, Independent Living
Older adults are especially susceptible to heat-related injuries and heat stroke. Dr. Evelyn Granieri, director of geriatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital, and Dr. Michael Stern, co-director of the Geriatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, explain why: Older adults may experience sunburn quicker because of changes in skin texture. Sunburn makes it more difficult to stay cool. Use sunblock (SPF 30 or greater) when outdoors for prolonged periods of time, even on cloudy days.
- Asphalt and concrete can reach up to 40 degrees hotter than the air temperature, and remains hotter than the air well into the night. Avoid prolonged exposure to the city’s streets and sidewalks.
- It may be more difficult for older adults to sense elevations in temperature and for their bodies to cool down. Anticipate change by turning on air conditioning systems or other ventilators when entering a room and taking off extra layers of clothing when going outside. This is especially important for older adults with memory disorders.
- Medications for chronic conditions can contribute to heat-related injuries Make sure you ask your physician if any of your medications might put you at increased risk.
- Headaches, nausea and weakness are all signs of heat exhaustion. Everyone should stay hydrated by drinking water or sports drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you
- Heat stroke can be fatal. Heat waves kill more Americans than any other type of natural disaster. Older adults should always have a family member friend, neighbor or home health aide who can check up on them regularly.
- High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity memory disorders and psychiatric illness all increase the risk of heat stroke. Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. If you have a heart condition, consult your physician regarding your fluid intake.
- Muscle cramps, dizziness, clammy skin and rapid heartbeat may be heat-related conditions. When temperatures begin to reach extreme highs, slow down, stay in the coolest place available and reduce or eliminate all strenuous activities.