Seniors Need to Take Caution Not to Overheat in High Temperatures
As the warmer weather approaches and you get older, your body doesn’t adjust to the hot weather as well as when you were younger. Many heat related injuries and deaths are among the over 65 age group. According to Health Direct, there’s been more deaths caused by the heat in Australia than any other natural disaster.
But there are certain measures that you’re able to put into place to reduce the risk of overheating and developing heat stroke.
Dehydration is a common reason for hospitalisation among the older population. The risk of dehydration increases because your body doesn’t adjust as well to sudden changes in the weather’s temperature. Also, it’s more common for ageing people to have chronic illnesses and take regular medications. Both of these factors can impact on the bodies response to heat, and you’ll possibly sweat less.
By drinking plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, you’ll stay hydrated. If you don’t like water, you can opt for other caffeine free liquids to help you stay hydrated. You should definitely avoid alcohol in the hot weather too.
In general as you get older your kidney function declines. If you’re really thirsty, have a headache, feel tired or confused, there’s a possibility you’re dehydrated. If dehydration isn’t corrected by drinking fluids, you can go into renal (kidney) failure. Renal failure is life threatening. If you’ve stopped urinating or have any of the above symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
According to the Better Health Channel, elderly people lose approximately 2 litres of fluid each day. This needs to be replaced by taking in a similar amount of fluid (approximately 8 cups). When it’s hot weather, this amount increases.
Air-conditioning, ceiling fans, and pedestal fans are all a great help to keep you cool. If you don’t have these items there are some other little tricks that you can do.
By eating colder foods such as popsicles, and light salads, you’ll keep your body cooler. You can also adopt little tricks such as putting a cool, wet cloth on the back of your neck. If you don’t have air-conditioning this can really help. Also sitting your feet in a cool bucket of water can be cooling to the body.
If the sun is beaming into your home, your house will get hot. Try to block the direct sun from coming in, and if you can afford to do so, invest in some window tinting.
Safety in the sun
If you’re trying to cool down, be sure not to put ice directly onto your skin because your skin becomes more fragile and ice can burn the skin. Always put an ice pack inside something such as a pillow case before you apply it to the skin.
If you venture outside always wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and cover up your body as much as possible without overheating. Seek shade wherever possible and don’t stay out too long.
Wearing light weight clothing is also optimal during the hot weather. This can be challenging for some people, especially if they’re suffering from cognitive impairment.
Taking Care of Your Neighbours
If you have an elderly family member, friend or neighbour, it’s a great idea to check up on them regularly during the hot days. Check that they’re drinking water and fill up their water bottles for them while you’re there.
If your loved one’s are living in a residential aged care facility, it will typically be air-conditioned and the staff are able to check up and make sure that the residents are managing in the heat.
But if you take your loved one on an outing during this time, consider venturing out to the shopping centre or a movie with them so that they can stay cool.
Also consider having your loved one stay with you during the hotter days so that you can make sure they’re dressing appropriately to the conditions, and taking in enough fluids.
If you or someone that you know are showing signs of heatstroke (confusion, seizures, stumbling) or dehydration, call the ambulance immediately. If you’re with a loved one, a friend, or even a stranger, stay with them until help arrives.