Last Updated: April 4, 2013
Hot weather is dangerous, but 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
- 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 the hottest part of the day
- During periods of extreme heat, the best time to
go out and about is before 10am or after 6pm, when the temperature
tends to be cooler.
- Take it easy - Avoid exercise and strenuous
activity, particularly outdoors, when it's very hot out.
- Keep an eye on 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 an air conditioned environment -
Seniors whose houses aren't conditioned should consider seeking an
air conditioned space 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 illness
- Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest
pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that
help should be sought immediately.
Learn how there's an
elderly death risk linked to higher temperatures and get info
dealing with elderly dehydration.