Summer Heat Safety for St. Louis Seniors
St. Louis summers bring the heat, which can be particularly dangerous for the elderly population.
Aging decreases the body’s ability to adjust to heat and sense temperature extremes, making the elderly more susceptible to heat-related disorders. Seniors are also more likely to have medical conditions or take medications, which impair the body’s ability to respond to heat.
Luckily, there are ways to help prevent heat-related conditions.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids (even if you don’t feel thirsty). Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which contribute to dehydration. Do not use salt tablets without consulting a doctor.
- Stay indoors during the heat of the day. Seniors without air conditioning should seek a cool space during extreme heat. The mall, library, or movie theater are popular options.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Eat light and frequent meals.
- Review medications with a doctor. Some medications can affect the body’s ability to stay hydrated and handle the heat.
- Take time to cool off. A shower or bath can be an excellent way to bring down body temperature.
- Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities. High-risk individuals should stay in cool places. Get plenty of rest to allow your natural “cooling system” to work.
- Know the signs of heat-related illness. Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting or breathing problems are all signs to seek help.
The elderly are at extreme risk during heat waves and need daily monitoring. Someone should visit them 2-3 times a day. Don’t just rely on phone calls, as you must be able to monitor their fluid intake and recognize changes in condition.
If you are unable to consistently check on an elderly loved one during summer heat waves or are concerned about a senior in your life, please contact us.
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