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Well, whether you like it hot or just warm, heat can be dangerous to our seniors because there are changes that take place as we grow older. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists these changes as:
- Seniors do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature because of chronic illnesses or certain medications.
- Seniors store fat differently and this adds to their inability to regulate their body temperature.
- Seniors tend to hold more heat in their bodies, but their glands don’t secrete much sweat. Sweat is the body’s cooling mechanism.
There are other reasons that make the heat dangerous for seniors and these reasons are rooted in lifestyle and socioeconomic factors.
*Blacks and Hispanics that reside in cities are likely to become sick from excessive heat.
*Lack of air-flow or access to air conditioning (although some seniors do have access to air conditioning, they may not turn it on).
*Wearing too many layers of clothing.
*Being significantly overweight.
Stay Cool, Stay Informed…
If at all possible, stay in an air conditioned area as much as possible. Contact your local city or county health department if you do not have air conditioning in your home.
Drink more water than you normally would, but don’t wait until you are thirsty because you may never be thirsty. The thirst center in the brain diminishes as we grow older. If you or your love one takes a water pill or are on a fluid restriction consult with your physician regarding fluid intake when the weather is hot.
Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and energy drinks because they contribute to dehydration.
Do not do any strenuous activities especially outside, when it’s hot.
Do not fire up the stove to cook…you’ll just make the house hotter. Instead of cooking, eat sandwiches and salads.
If you think someone is having a heat-related event, move them to someplace cool, urge them to lie down, remove or loosen any tight-fitting clothing. Call for assistance. Provide fluids and apply cold water or ice packs to their skin.