Drops of sweat are running down your nose and down your neck in streams. It's hot and will be getting hotter.
Whether you are mowing your lawn, camping with your family or walking across the mall parking lot, you'll feel the heat of summer for another month or two.Overexposure to high temperatures can result in heat disorders such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Normal aging processes put older adults at increased risk. The elderly are less likely to detect excess heat, they take longer to begin sweating and they are less likely to experience thirst in the first stages of dehydration.
Chronic medical problems can increase vulnerability to heat's effects. The medically and physically disabled are more dependent on others to help them with fluid intake, proper clothing or travel to cooler locations.
Also, people who are unable to move about easily - for example, disabled, homeless and very poor people - are at a higher risk for heat illness because they often cannot afford air conditioning or can't get to a place that has it.
Some medications impair the body's ability to handle heat exposure. Older adults are more likely taking such medicines capable of impairing the body's ability to regulate heat. Some drugs slow sweat production (such as diuretics, tranquilizers, antihistamines).
During long, hot weather conditions, the number of heat illnesses rises due to body fluid loss, loss of appetite (and possibly salt), buildup of heat in living and work areas, and breakdown of air-conditioning equipment.
Those at greatest risk of heat illness among the elderly are the obese and the chronically ill (such as diabetes, heart disease).
To prevent heat stress, elderly folks should:
- Take it easy, especially if you are on any heart or blood medication or are overweight. Check with your physician before making any changes with your medications. Don't exert yourself in the summer heat. People should avoid any unnecessary stressful activity.
- If exercising, gardening, walking or participating in some other physical activity outdoors, do so in the early morning or late evening hours, when it's cooler.
- Drink lots of water in the summer. If physically active, that means about one quart every hour or so. If you are just puttering in the garden, take a large jug of water with you, and sip it continuously. Don't rely on thirst to tell you when to drink; people don't feel thirsty until they re dehydrated. Commercial sports drinks are all right, but studies have shown that water alone, combined with a normal amount of dietary salt prevents dehydration in most people.
Do not take salt tablets, unless advised by your physician since the excess amount of sodium can increase the risk of kidney damage.
- Get ample sleep and good nutrition.
- Wear a broad brim hat to protect you from the sun and loose clothing to allow sweat to evaporate.
- Wear sunscreen. A sunburn inhibits your skin's ability to sweat.
- Stay in an air-conditioned environment on hot days. If that's not possible, take cool baths, spray yourself with water frequently and sit in front of a fan. If you feel faint, call the emergency medical service ((EMS) by phoning 911.