Written by Tammy Walro
July 30, 2008
There’s no need to look at the thermometer to know it’s hot, hot, hot these days.
The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio Inc. cautions the community that while high heat and humidity can be uncomfortable for all of us, it can turn into a medical emergency for older adults.
Hot Weather Tips:
Drink plenty of water: With age, the sensation of thirst can be impaired and decrease the body’s reserve of water. Certain medications, such as diuretics for hypertension, can interfere with the body’s cooling system. Without enough fluids the body can become dehydrated. Try sipping water throughout the day instead of drinking only when thirsty.
Stay out of the sun: Sunburn occurs when skin cells, not protected from direct exposure to the sun, are burned. Depending on the length of the exposure the result can range from a mild burning sensation to severe blistering of the affected area. We remind older adults that they are more susceptible to sunburns than the general population and certain medications can cause the skin to burn more quickly, placing them at greater risk.
• Drink plenty of water and juices before you start to feel thirsty.
• Take cool baths or showers.
• When you are at home, stay in the coolest room, with fans and air conditioning.
• Get relief at malls, movie theatres, libraries or senior centers if your home is too warm.
• Eat cool foods, such as fruits, vegetables and salads.
• Avoid heavy meals and alcoholic beverages.
If you experience headache, nausea, weakness, have profuse sweating, clammy skin or have difficulty breathing, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion. If so, lie down in a cool room and drink plenty of cool liquids. If someone can offer you a sponge bath with cool (NOT cold) water, it’s an excellent idea.
A far more serious condition is heat stroke. The skin becomes hot and red, the pulse becomes rapid, sweating ceases and the body temperature soars to 105 or higher. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention.
Also remember to watch out for neighbors who live alone or who may be experiencing problems coping with the heat. Call to check on their well-being.
All the area senior centers have air conditioning and offer seniors 60 and older respite when temperatures soar. A nutritious senior lunch (reservations required) and many activities are available at the centers.
Call the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio at 800-472-7277 for more information.