Today is expected to be extremely hot. The weather this summer has been relativelycool, but all that is about to change and it is going to feel hotter since we aren’t acclimated to the heat yet.
If you haven’t already, today would be the day to make sure your air conditioners are in and working. Going from low 70s to high 90s is going to be very difficult for anyone with a medical condition or anyone who is prone to heat problems. Older people often don’t do as well in the heat as at other times of the year for many reasons, they may have conditions that leave them more susceptible to heat or they may not drink enough fluids, whatever the reasons a closer eye needs to be kept.
Make sure you are drinking enough water or even a sports drink during this hot spell to stay hydrated and if you have any of the following symptoms rest and find a cool place to go. The Burlington Mall, library and senior center are all places you can go to cool down. The mall has the benefit of food, drink and entertainment in the form of people watching.
Dehydration and heat stroke are both very common conditions in the summer that can be very dangerous, even life threatening to older adults if left untreated. Older adults are less able to regulate or feel their body temperature and should be watched by family members or friends. You don’t have to be out in the sun, playing sports or even doing housework to have either occur. Dehydration can occur anytime of year but occurs most frequently in the summer when you sweat out fluid faster than you replace it. Symptoms include thirst, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth and increased heart rate and breathing. Minor dehydration can be treated at home with sports drinks but moderate to severe dehydration requires intravenous fluids. Call 911 when an older adult is dehydrated since it is easy to confuse the symptoms of dehydration with something even more serious.
Dehydration can lead to heat stroke, a very serious heat illness. The symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, disorientation, agitation or confusion,
sluggishness or fatigue, seizure, hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty,
a high body temperature, loss of consciousness and rapid heart beat. If you think you or someone you are with may have heat stroke call 911 immediately particularly if they are older. In the meantime if you are outside, get indoors or into shade. If there is nowhere else to go have the person lie down with their feet slightly elevated, remove clothing and apply cool water to the exposed skin followed by fanning to stimulate sweating, if possible apply ice packs to the groin and armpits.
Both conditions can be avoided. Drink plenty of fluids and on hot days avoid
anything with alcohol or caffeine. If you are active and taking part in outdoor activities sports drinks can be a good choice to replace your salt and electrolytes as you sweat. Make sure you wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing in light colors. Wear a hat, sunglasses and use an umbrella. Try to spend as much time
indoors as you can on hot humid days. If you must be outside take frequent breaks and cool yourself off with water on your skin as well as in your body.