Heat Risks for Seniors

Author

Angels By Visiting Angels-Alabama Gulf Coast

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Visiting Angels-Daphne

Posted on

Jul 19, 2023

Book/Edition

Alabama - Gulf Coast

Heat Risks for Seniors

There’s plenty to look forward to in the summer. It typically marks the start of longer days and more availability for your family with no school and shorter work hours. But summertime in the South also means increased heat. Even for people native to Alabama, extreme heat can lead to health risks. Learning about heat-related health concerns is a great way to build your awareness if you experience something, and it provides you with tips in case you or someone you know begins not feeling well this summer. 

Heat Rash

Heat rash is a skin rash that develops when the body overheats and sweats too much. The sweat can block the sweat glands on the skin, causing the sweat to irritate the surrounding area. It’s most common in hot and humid weather. 

Signs and symptoms of heat rash may include small raised spots that may be itchy or cause a prickly feeling. You may also have swelling around the affected area. Heat rash can appear anywhere on the body and may spread. However, it’s not contagious and can spread from person to person. 

What to do

Heat rash is uncomfortable but often harmless and improves within a few days. You can relieve some of this discomfort by applying a cool cloth or ice pack over the skin. While you have a heat rash, avoid wearing tight clothing over the area or using scented lotions or shower gels.

Dehydration

Dehydration is when your body loses more fluids than you’re taking in, usually through urination or sweating. Early signs and symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, and fatigue. If left untreated, dehydration can be life-threatening and may lead to organ failure. Anyone can suffer from dehydration, but older adults are more susceptible, especially in the warm Alabama climate. It’s also more common among people with long-term health conditions like diabetes. 

What to do

The best way to avoid dehydration is to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re spending time outdoors. If you’re doing something active, such as hiking or working out, you may consider drinking sports drinks with added electrolytes to help hydrate you. If you start feeling dehydrated, contact your doctor immediately, as you may need to have a doctor provide fluids through an IV. 

Heat Exhaustion 

Dehydration may lead to heat exhaustion when the body loses too much water and electrolytes through sweating. It can happen to anyone but is more common in seniors and people with high blood pressure. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include headache, nausea, dizziness, thirst, fatigue, and irritability. 

What to do

Heat exhaustion is often the first phase before a person develops heat stroke. It’s essential to seek shelter from the heat and find medical attention. If you’re with an individual suffering from heat exhaustion, help them stay hydrated with water and keep them cool until help arrives. The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to keep yourself hydrated and avoid spending too much time outdoors in high temperatures.

Heat Stroke

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke, one of the seniors’ most severe heat-related risks. Heat stroke is when the body no longer controls its temperature and cannot cool down. Symptoms and signs of heat stroke include confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and profuse sweating. 

What to do

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and does require immediate medical attention. If you’re with someone suffering from heat stroke, try to get the individual to a cool environment and remove outer clothing until emergency medical care arrives.

Working with Visiting Angels

The summers in Daphne can get brutally hot. If you’re a senior living in Baldwin County or the greater Mobile area, the team at Visiting Angels Daphne would proudly help you stay safe from the heat. Our compassionate team of professional caregivers can help apply sunscreen, dress in breathable clothing, and provide mobility assistance throughout the home and outdoors to keep you safe. Caregivers can also help with light housekeeping, meal preparations, medication reminders, and transportation. 

All of our home care services are customizable to fit the needs of each client. If you’d like to learn more about how caregiving can improve your quality of life, call 251-517-9700 to schedule a complimentary consultation or send us your questions.


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