Elderly More Vulnerable to Heat: Check in Often

When summer temperatures begin to climb, it’s dangerous for everyone. But what many people don’t realize is that the elderly are especially vulnerable and are more prone to heat stress, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. They don’t adjust as well to changes in temperature, and chronic medical conditions or medications can interfere with their body’s ability to regulate temperature.

What to Do
Keep a close eye on older adults when temperatures start to creep into the upper 80s and above. Check in on elderly neighbors and loved ones. Try to do it twice a day so you can assess the temperature of the home and how they’re coping.

  • Encourage them to use their air conditioning, if available.
  • Remind them to save exercise and strenuous activity for the early morning or evening when it may not be as hot.
  • Ask them to increase their fluid intake.
    • The sensation of thirst can decrease with age and they may not be getting that natural signal to hydrate.
    • Try placing a water in a convenient spot near where they usually like to sit.
    • Make sure to check with their doctor first if he or she has recommended that they restrict their fluids.

What to Look For
Be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illness. Symptoms can include:

  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weakness
  • Nausea

If you suspect heat-related illness, seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for help, you can use wet towels or a cool shower or sponge bath to start the cooling process.