Older adults more susceptible to heat stress can develop severe reactions. Some people over the age of 65 may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and require special care in hot weather. Living alone, chronic medical problems, and certain medications are all risk factors of potential heat stress.
Heat stress, also referred to as hyperthermia, occurs when the body’s ability to cool itself and maintain a healthy temperature is compromised. Sweating normally cools the body, but sweating isn’t always enough because the body temperature rises. Heat-related illnesses can range from mild conditions like a rash or cramps to serious and potentially fatal conditions like heatstroke.
Why are older adults more susceptible to heat stress?
- When it comes to sudden temperature changes, older adults do not adjust as well as younger people.
- They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that alters normal body temperature responses.
- They are more likely to use prescription medications that interfere with the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or sweat.
How to Prevent Heat Stress:
Dress Appropriately: Wear Lightweight, Light-Colored, Loose-Fitting Clothing.
- Stay cool indoors: As much as possible, stay in an air-conditioned environment. All of our Terrace Place units have high-quality air conditioning.
- Pace yourself: Limit your physical activity during the summer. If you’re not used to working or exercising in a hot environment, begin slowly and gradually increase your pace.
- Wear sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can dehydrate you. If you must go outside, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and applying SPF 15 or higher sunscreen 30 minutes before going out. Continue to reapply it as directed on the package.
What to do if Someone is Experiencing Heat Stress:
If you suspect someone is suffering from a heat-related illness, you should do the following:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Remove the person from the heat and place them in a shady, air-conditioned, or other cool location. Insist that they lie down.
- Offer fluids such as water and fruit or vegetable juices if the person can swallow safely, but no alcohol or caffeine.
- Wipe the wrists, neck, armpits, and groin with a cold, wet cloth. These are areas where blood flows close to the skin’s surface, and a cold cloth can help cool the blood.
- If it is safe, encourage the person to shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water.