Thursday, August 4, 2011

Check on Seniors During the Heat Wave

With the heat approaching 100 degrees in Atlanta today, it’s time to review helpful hints for older adults during a heat wave.

More than 400 people die during heat waves each year in the U.S. Older people do not handle the heat as well as younger people because they do not sweat effectively and they may have poor circulation. Obesity, heart disease, dementia, diabetes and other chronic medical conditions can compound the risk. So can certain medications, especially diuretics or those prescribed for hypertension and Parkinson's disease.

  • Caregivers should stay on the alert for signs of confusion or altered mental states in seniors who are out in hot weather, as it could be a sign of heat stroke

  • Get seniors into an air-conditioned building; have them dress lightly; and keep themselves hydrated. This may be easier said than done, as many seniors complain of being cold in an air conditioned room.

  • If elderly relative complain to being too cold, turn up the air conditioner. If they refuse to stay inside, have them sit in a shady area under near a fan.

  • Close curtains or blinds on the sunny side of the house.

  • If the elderly person refuses to use their air conditioner, make sure that they spend at least some time in a cool air conditioned environment each day. If seniors need a cool place to go, they may visit any Fulton County Neighborhood Senior Center during the week days.

  • Offer drinks that the seniors prefer, but stay away from caffienated drinks or sodas loaded with sodium. Do not serve alcohol which is dehydrating.

  • Keep frozen treats available that high water and low sugar content or serve fruit like watermelon.

  • Make sure that seniors wear lightweight clothing, light in color, and not form-fitting. Hats are useful but make sure that they are loosely woven or ventilated so that they don’t trap hear. Wear broad-brimmed hats to shade the entire face.

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