Heat warning tips for older adults

Heat warning tips for older adults

(WTOL) - The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc. cautions older persons that they are most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and that these extreme conditions pose a significant threat to their health, especially to those who have cardiac or respiratory problems.

In contrast to violent weather events that cause extensive physical destruction, the hazards of extreme heat are dramatically less apparent, especially at the onset.

If you plan on spending your summer outdoors, follow these tips to stay safe.

In fact, similar weather conditions in Chicago in 1995 led to heat-related deaths of over 750 people, most of whom were seniors.

The community is reminded to check on older or disabled family members or neighbors who live alone or may be experiencing problems coping with the heat.

Ways to reduce the risk of heat-related illness:

  • Plan any outside activities for the coolest times of the day – before noon and in the evening
  • Stay in cool places such as shopping malls, libraries or a Cooling Center
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages - they accelerate the effects of heat exhaustion
  • Avoid heavy meals. Choose lighter meals & cooler foods – salads, sandwiches, fruit etc.
  • Since aging can cause decreased thirst sensation, older adults should drink water, natural juices or other fruit drinks throughout the day, even if they don’t feel thirsty.

If you are on a special fluid-restricted diet or taking diuretics, consult your physician about fluid intake during hot weather.

Here are the signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Headache
  • Sluggishness or fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Moderate increase in body temperature

To treat heat exhaustion, it is suggested that you use a fan or move out into air-conditioning, apply cool and wet cloths, and take small sips of water.

If your condition does not improve, call 911.

Heat stroke, however, is a much more serious condition.

Here are the signs of heat stroke:

  • Headache
  • Sluggishness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hot dry skin (absence of sweating)
  • Increased (inner) body temperature
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hallucinations

If you experience these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke can be deadly.

Until help arrives, it is suggested to treat heat stroke the same way you would treat heat exhaustion (described above).

Copyright 2018 WTOL. All rights reserved.