Summer is a time for vacations, time outside, and all kinds of great activities that would otherwise be impossible when the weather is cold and stormy. However, don’t let the pleasant days distract you from the very real risks the warmer, dryer weather present, especially to the elderly.
The hottest days of summer cause thousands of heat-related illnesses every year, and seniors are the most vulnerable. Due to changes in the way our bodies age, seniors are more vulnerable to conditions like dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The body’s ability to regulate its temperature through sweating and blood circulation becomes less efficient as we age, making hot weather a potential danger. Seniors, therefore must stay vigilant and be careful to take precautions to have a wonderful summer of fun in the sun.
Heat Stroke occurs when the body cannot cool itself as it should. Heat Stroke is a serious illness and can be life-threatening. Symptoms include disorientation, dizziness, headache, agitation and confusion. Body temperature can rise above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Flushed, dry or hot skin, staggering, rapid heartbeat or unconsciousness can occur, and any one of these signs is a reason to head straight to the emergency room.
Heat Exhaustion is not life-threatening, but it should still be taken seriously. This illness can appear after a few days of exposure to high temperatures. The body begins to lose salts and fluids, and nausea, headache, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, blurred vision, vomiting, rapid and weak heartbeat, excessive sweating and dizziness can all appear.
Dehydration is of great concern to seniors as our sense of thirst diminishes as we age. Therefore, seniors tend to drink less water than they really need, and when the weather is hot, they need more water than normal. So keep drinking to avoid this common illness.