May is the month for health and wellness. With summertime right around the corner, many of us envision long lazy days, relaxation, lounging in the pool, or attending some barbeques. Yet for seniors the heat waves are potentially a deadly hazard. Not surprisingly, seniors account for a disproportionate number of heat-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Part of the problem is that aging adults cannot handle heat as well as young individuals, because they do not sweat properly and have poorer circulation. Other problems include obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes or other medical conditions. The risk gets compounded with medications that an elderly person may take such as diuretics, antihypertensive and Parkinson’s medications, just to name a few. Certain prescription medications can exacerbate the dehydrating effects of high temperatures or dull an individual’s awareness of their own discomfort.
In order to keep the elderly population in sunny Florida safe, it is crucial that family and friends pay close attention to the health and well-being of their elderly loved ones during hot weather. Even though seniors feel young at heart, below are some life-saving tips to keep the body on par with the mind.
Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration because age diminishes the ability to conserve water. Additionally, older individuals tend to become less aware of their thirst. Beverages such as coffee or sodas are high in caffeine and sugar; water is always the best option for staying hydrated. It is great to defer to eating certain fruits and vegetables that are high in water, like watermelon, cucumbers, celery, and all kind of berries.
Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature. During the particularly hot portions of the day, it is important to remain inside air-conditioned buildings, such as the home, movie theaters, shopping malls, or libraries.
Wear the Right Clothing
Seniors sometimes get overwhelmed when faced with appropriate selection of attire. Ensure that in the summer months, the clothing is lightweight, such as cotton or linen, and light in color. A broad brim hat is very useful for shielding the entire face from the damaging sun.
Protect the Eyes
It is important for the elderly to wear sunglasses, which will protect their eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve their vision.
Put on Sunscreen and Wear a Hat
Young or old – everyone should wear sunscreen when going outdoors, even if you are just driving from one location to another. Keep the sunscreen readily available, such as on the kitchen counter, to serve as a reminder. Using a hat is also a great idea for those with light-colored hair or little hair.
Florida is the mosquito hub. Seniors are particularly susceptible to certain virus and bacteria that mosquitos may carry. If venturing outside, especially after a rainfall or at night, always use repellent to reduce the risk of getting bitten by a mosquito carrying any type of virus.
If you enjoy open-air activities such as walking outside or gardening, make sure to wear the appropriate clothing. Do not remain outside for long periods of time and make sure you stay completely hydrated. During the summer months, limit outdoor activity to the early morning or early evening.
Risks of Hyperthermia
Make sure you can recognize the warning signs of hyperthermia and get immediately medical attention if you or someone around you is experiencing these symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body temperature higher than 104 degrees
- A change of behavior such as an outward appearance of confusion or agitation
- Heavy breathing or rapid pulse
Stay in Touch with your Doctor
Ask your doctor if any of the medications you are taking are adversely affected by intense heat. Make sure you know which medicines to store in the refrigerator and which to store at room temperature.
Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or email@example.com to get more information on elder law, elder care, and proper legal documents that are crucial for any aging individual.