Take Care – It’s Hot Out There!

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The older we get the more susceptible we are to the heat of summer. We’re also more likely to get dehydrated and that can mean a trip to the hospital! Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration so you can stay healthy during the warm summer months. If you know an older someone who lives alone, please check on them often. The hot weather can be a killer!

We’re experiencing a heat wave here in the Sacramento Valley and across most of California. My brother-in-law is only in his early 60s but the heat got to him a few days ago and he wound up in the hospital. Older people, even those in their early senior years, are much more likely to suffer from the heat than younger people. If you are older or have older loved ones, you need to know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

WebMD is a great resource for educating yourself on so many health risks. The warnings for hot weather include knowing if you might be having a health issue due to the heat. First of all, here are the precautions to take so you won’t have a problem.

  • Do your best to stay in an air conditioned place
  • Drink plenty of water — avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • If you feel you’re too hot — get in the shower or apply cold compresses to your neck and under your arms.

Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Throbbing headache
  • No sweating
  • Body temperature over 103 degrees
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Light-headedness or fainting
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, trouble walking, staggering

If you have any of these symptoms — get to a cool place, drink water and call 911!

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Light-headed or dizzy
  • Excess sweating
  • Cool, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Muscle cramps

WebMD strongly suggests you take immediate action to cool down or help your loved one cool down. A cool bath and wet cloths applied to the skin can help. A shower can also help, but if they’re having trouble with their balance, just keep applying cold compresses.

In a heat wave you really need to stay in where it’s cool. If you really want to be outside for exercise or other activities, do it in the early morning hours or late evening when it’s cooler.

Drink extra water during hot weather. Eat lighter meals — heavy meals tax your whole body system during hot weather.

Remember to be extra careful if you are an older person. Medications and many health conditions can make you more likely to have trouble during the hot weather.

Older people are also careful about the cost of air conditioning and will keep their homes hotter than they should. Check on your older friends and family members often during the hot weather.

Many cities and even  my small home town have cooling centers set up for those who don’t have adequate air conditioning. If your town doesn’t have a cooling center, go to the library, to a movie, or even a coffee shop. If you don’t have transportation, call a family member and tell them you need help or call your local senior center. Many of them will welcome you and provide meals and refreshments while you beat the heat.

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