Written by Admin | June 17, 2013 | In The News
by Terri Messinides, RN
Safety Tips for Coping with Heat
As we age, our bodies gradually lose the ability to accurately sense hot and cold. This is a concern especially on very hot days, when elderly people can be more at risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. They may dress inappropriately in sweaters because they can’t feel the temperature well, causing their internal temperature to rise. To compound the problem, the sensation of thirst can also diminish as we age. It is very important to drink enough fluids on hot days to replace fluids lost when perspiring and sweating. A fluid is anything that is a liquid at room temperature such as water, juice, soft drinks and tea. Do avoid alcohol; it acts as a diuretic and speeds dehydration. An adequate amount of fluid would be about two quarts* a day (about 8-9 cups), more if the weather is very hot. If you have a heart condition, it is important to check with your physician to see if you need to restrict fluids.
Another safety tip is to stay where it is cool. Set the air conditioner temperature to 76 degrees or lower. If air conditioning is not available, use fans to circulate air in the home. Open windows in the home to increase air circulation in the evening. Or go to a designated cooling center in the community; senior centers sometimes fill this role.
Dress in lightweight clothing. If going outside, be sure to wear a hat to protect your head, and use sun screen on exposed skin. Wearing light-colored clothing will reflect light; dark-colored clothing will absorb light and heat.
Be a good friend, too. Please check on elderly relatives and neighbors during hot weather to make sure they are following guidelines for hot weather precautions.
* as determined by the Institute of Medicine