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Help older adults stay safe in the heat

Photo: darrya/iStockphoto

Too much heat isn’t good for anyone, but it’s especially dangerous for older adults, the National Institute on Aging says. Of particular concern:
Heat syncope: A feeling of sudden dizziness when active in hot weather.
Heat cramps: The painful tightening of muscles from exerting one’s self in hot weather.
Heat exhaustion: Your body’s warning that it can no longer regulate its temperature.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Signs that an older adult may be experiencing heatstroke include fainting, becoming confused or agitated, having a body temperature above 104° F, and sweating even if it isn’t hot.

Older adults can take several steps to help lower their risk of heat-related illnesses. Among them:

  • Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water or fruit and vegetable juices. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Keep your home as cool as possible by limiting the use of your oven, keeping your blinds and shades closed, and opening your windows at night (if you don’t have air conditioning).
  • If your home is too hot, go somewhere that has air conditioning, such as a library, shopping mall, movie theater or senior center. If you need help getting to a cool place, call a friend or family member or reach out to your local senior center.
  • Wear natural fabrics, such as cotton, which can be cooler than synthetic materials.
  • Don’t exercise or partake in strenuous activities outdoors when it’s hot.

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