Summer is officially here! While summer is a time many people look forward to all year, it can be a very dangerous time for seniors. Heat related illnesses are not something to mess around with at any age. Seniors can be more susceptible to these illnesses. Below, Keeping Good Company Senior Care has compiled a list of signs, symptoms and list of how to prevent a multitude of these sweaty summer emergencies.
Things to Watch Out For
- Heat Stroke: If you notice yourself or someone else with the following symptoms call 911 right away! A heat stroke is a medical emergency. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be life-threatening. Move the person to a cool place, find cool clothes, or place them in a cool bath to lower the person’s body temperature, and DO NOT give the person anything to drink.
- High body temperature over 104.
- Fast, strong pulse.
- Hot, red, damp skin.
- Heat Exhaustion: If you notice yourself or someone else with the following symptoms move to a cool place, loosen clothing, find a cool bath or cool wet clothes, and sip water. Get medical attention right away if you are throwing up, symptoms worsen, or last longer than an hour.
- Heavy Sweating.
- Cool pale skin.
- Fast weak pulse.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Muscle cramps.
- Weakness or tiredness.
- Heat Cramps: If you have Heat Cramps, you will know! Stop physical activity immediately and move to a cool area. You should drink water or sports drink rich with electrolytes. Get medical help right away if your cramps last more than an hour, are on a low sodium diet, or if you have heart problems.
- Heavy sweating during intense exercise.
- Muscle pain or spasms.
- Sunburn: Sometimes hard to know you got a sunburn right away. Sunburns usually show up the next day depending how intense they were. We recommend staying out of the sun until your burn heals. You will be more comfortable if you wear loose cool clothing over the affected area. Make sure to stay well moisturized with aloe gel or lotion and do not break any blisters that form.
- Painful, red and warm skin.
- Blisters on the skin.
- Heat Rash: Any rash can be a sign of skin irritation but heat related ones are very uncomfortable! Heat rashes occurs when sweat glands become blocked and swell. If you develop a heat rash stay in a cool dry place. Make sure to keep the rash dry and use powder to sooth it.
- Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in the elbow creases).
- Itching or discomfort.
How to Prevent Heat Related Illness
- Wear appropriate clothing: clothing that is lightweight, light-colored, and loose fitting.
- Stay cool indoors: stay in an air-conditioned area as much as possible. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public place the hottest hours of the day. Call your local Health Department to see if there are any heat- relief shelters in your area.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Try planning your outdoor activities for the coolest parts of the day such as mornings and evenings.
- Wear sunscreen any time you go outside. Sunburns can affect the body’s ability to cool down and stay hydrated.
- Check the side effects of your prescriptions. Some medications make people more sensitive to the sun. Make sure you know if your prescriptions mean you need to take extra precautions. It probably won’t mean you have to forego outdoor activities, just that you’ll need to make extra sure to follow some of the other suggestions on this list to avoid problems.
- Replace the salt and minerals you are sweating out! Heavy sweating removes many of the electrolytes from your body. Try drinking a sports drink like Propel or Gatorade.
- Use the buddy system when in the heat. Using this system allows you to monitor each other and your conditions. Keep in mind that heat related illnesses can cause confusion, or loss of consciousness.
- Check the forecast before you go out. You don’t want to be caught unawares on a 104° day. Make sure you know what to expect of the weather before you go out so you can dress appropriately and plan your day accordingly. Don’t risk being stuck on a hike far from your car when record temperatures hit in the afternoon.
- DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS!! Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Drink a lot of fluids during the day especially water, regardless of how active you are. Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks.
Seniors 65 and older are at greater risk for heat- related illnesses. “Elderly individuals have a harder time knowing when they are dehydrated and their bodies have more difficulty regulating their temperatures,” says Dr. Ronan Factora, of the Cleveland Clinic says. “As a result, they are more prone to heat stroke.” Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms. Call 911 if you or someone you know shows signs of these
Enjoy the summer while staying safe!