Seniors are vulnerable to heat stroke
Older adults need to be more careful of overheating because their bodies don’t cope well with high temperatures and they’re also more likely to be dehydrated.
A recent University of Chicago Medical Center study found that 40% of heat-related deaths in the U.S. were among people over 65.
Seniors are more vulnerable to heat because:
- Their bodies don’t adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature.
- Chronic medical conditions can change their body responses to heat.
- Prescription medicines can impair their body’s ability to regulate temperature or could actually prevent sweating.
10 ways for seniors to stay cool in hot weather
In hot weather, older adults should stay indoors and avoid strenuous activities. In addition, try these 10 ideas to beat the heat.
- Drink plenty of cool water throughout the day (don’t rely on feeling thirsty!) and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Eat cooling snacks like homemade popsicles (with cupcake liner as drip catcher), frozen peas, or slightly frozen grapes.
- Eat light, cold meals like chicken or pasta salad instead of heavy, hot dishes like pot roast.
- Place a cool washcloth on the back of the neck and a pan of cool water close by to periodically re-cool the towel.
- Sit with feet in a pan of cool (but not too cold) water.
- Keep the house as cool as possible by keeping shades closed during the hottest part of the day and using inexpensive solar curtains.
- Wear layers of lightweight clothing in light colored cotton so it’s easy to adjust to the temperature throughout the day.
- Visit a public cooling center like a recreation center, senior center, library, coffee shop, or shopping mall.
- Take a cool shower, bath, or washcloth wipe-down. For maximum cooling, keep the water just below body temperature.
- Cover up with a flexible ice blanket – use a thin towel to keep the ice away from direct skin contact
Bonus tip: If the heat is unbearable, consider renting an air conditioning unit until the heat wave subsides.
These stay-cool tips should keep your older adult safe and comfortable in the heat. But in extreme weather, it’s always important to be alert for the warning signs of heat stroke. Check out our article about preventing heat stroke and print this handy one-page guide to heat stroke symptoms and treatments.
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