Last Updated: April 21, 2015
Hot weather is dangerous, and seniors are particularly prone to
its threat. Elderly heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a real
problem. In fact, a recent University of Chicago Medical
Center study found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the
U.S. were among people over 65.
There are several reasons for elderly heat vulnerability.
People's ability to notice changes in their body temperature
decreases with age. Many seniors also have underlying health
conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat. Furthermore,
many medicines that seniors take can contribute to dehydration.
Fortunately, a few simple precautions are all that's needed to keep
Here are some guidelines for keeping safe in hot weather:
- Drink Plenty of Liquids
Dehydration is the root of many heat related health
problems. Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you're not
thirsty. But remember to avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, as
they can actually contribute to dehydration.
- Wear Appropriate Clothes
An old Swedish saying says, "There's no such thing as bad
weather, only bad clothes." When it's hot out, wear light-colored,
lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay Indoors During Mid-day Hours
During periods of extreme heat, the best time to run errands or be
outdoors is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature tends to
- Take it Easy
Avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly
outdoors, when it's very hot out.
- Watch the Heat Index
When there's a lot of moisture in their air (high
humidity), the body's ability to cool itself through sweating is
impaired. The heat index factors humidity and temperature to
approximate how the how the weather really feels. The current heat
index can be found on all popular weather websites, and is also
usually announced on local TV and radio weather reports during
periods of warm weather.
- Seek Air-conditioned Environments
Seniors whose houses aren't air-conditioned should consider
finding an air-conditioned place to spend time during extreme
heat.The mall, library or movie theater are all popular options.
During heat waves, many cities also set up "cooling centers,"
air-conditioned public places, for seniors and other vulnerable
populations. Seniors without convenient access to any
air-conditioned place might consider a cool bath or shower.
- Know the Warning Signs of Heat-related
Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting
and breathing problems are all warning signs that help should be
Learn how there's an elderly
death risk linked to higher temperatures and get info on dealing
with elderly dehydration.