Beating the summer heat.

Are you staying hydrated during these hot days?  At 90 degrees, most of us are at risk for heat stroke if given enough time in the sun.  Seniors need to be even more careful.  Many medications actually put people at greater risk for heat stroke; heart medication and blood pressure medication can interfere with the body’s ability to cool off in these warm summer months.

In order to cool down, our heart rate increases to bring blood closer to our skin.  From there, wind, sweat, and evaporation remove heat from the body.  Heart and blood pressure medications interfere with that process, making it more difficult for the body  to regulate it’s temperature.  This can turn into a dangerous situation for anyone–and seniors are even more at risk.  Seniors are more likely to have chronic health conditions that change the body’s response to heat, and may be on medications that contribute to dehydration.  In fact, some studies have found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over the age of 65.

There are several things you can do to help protect yourself, and your loved ones this summer.  For starters, STAY HYDRATED!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “But I hate water!”  Fine–that’s okay–drink something else, then!  Juice, seltzer water, herbal tea…anything nonalcoholic!  You will never be able to beat the heat if you don’t replace all the fluid your body is losing throughout the day.

Check in on your neighbors, parents, and grandparents.  Make sure they’re staying safe, and watch them for signs of confusion, weakness, or sickness.

Monitor your (and their) activity level.  Even a simple walk in the shade in this kind of heat can be too much for someone.  Make sure you and your loved one are dressed appropriately.  Wear light colored clothing and ensure that sweaters and long pants are saved for the nice, cool air conditioner.

Stay indoors during the mid-day hours.  If you’re taking mom to a BBQ, or out to run some errands, do so before 10am or after 6pm when the air will be cooler and the sun less intense.

Rest.  Rest, rest, rest!  Make sure you and your loved one are laying low on these hot days, and taking the time to put those feet up.  (That will help with the swelling in your ankles, too!).  Dreaming of an afternoon nap?  Take one!  Save the wild moments for later on in the evening…

Finally, know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Need a reminder? Symptoms can include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

If not managed appropriately, these symptoms can quickly progress to these…..

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO IN EITHER OF THESE SITUATIONS IS TO GET MEDICAL ATTENTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Heat stroke is a very dangerous medical condition and can cause death if it is not treated. 

So please, take good care of yourself and your loved ones during these hot days of summer!  And when it feels completely unbearable and you don’t think you can take one more second of the heat, just remember: THERE ARE ONLY 172 DAYS UNTIL…….

Nahhhh….I can’t say it!  Just enjoy the summer and drink up!

Cheers!

Lauren