The weather has changed and although homes, offices and businesses are air conditioned, heat and humidity continue to affect our senior and elderly population. Heat stress, heat fatigue and hypothermia can cause nausea, muscle spasms, headaches and cold symptoms (sneezing, coughing and wheezing). Heat stroke and symptoms related to hyperthermia can lead to serious unrelated illnesses and negatively affect prescribed drugs and medications.
Heat related illnesses can be triggered by changes in barometric pressure, increased humidity, lifestyle and changes in environment. Family vacations, tours, cruises and road trips can trigger heat cramps or heat exhaustion. Going from an air-conditioned car to an air conditioned building or from an outdoor event to an air conditioned room can increase the threat. Poor blood circulation, kidney disease, heart disease, an inability to sweat and aged-related skin disease are affected by the heat.
Clothing seniors and the elderly during the summer months can be challenging. They often prefer long sleeves and heavy clothing to protect them from the sun; they wear jackets and sweaters in air-conditioned cars and buildings. Choosing light weight, breathable fabrics is important. Easily removed layered clothing can protect and provide comfort.
These much longed for lazy days of summer can be enjoyed by all when preventable steps are taken. Drink lots of water, avoid alcoholic beverages, caffeinated drinks and over dressing. Primary care providers can explain heat’s effect on prescribed medications. Know the symptoms of heat stroke and discuss them with your family. If signs of hypothermia or heat stress are exhibited seek emergency assistance. Heat stroke in the elderly can be deadly