Summer Safety for Older Adults

Follow These Tips to Reduce Risk of Heat-Related Illnesses

An afternoon stroll seems like a wonderful way to spend a sunny summer day. Yet older adults are at higher risk of health problems caused by summer’s heat and humidity.

As we age, our bodies are less efficient at regulating our internal temperature. In addition, health issues, such as being overweight or underweight, heart problems, as well as drugs such as diuretics and blood-pressure medications, can reduce the body’s ability to cool itself.

While a 75-degree day may feel comfortable and safe for time outside, 90-degree heat is a different matter. When you add humidity to the heat, you have a particularly troublesome mix for senior adults.

Heat-Related Health Issues

Heat-related health issues to watch for include:

Dehydration. Symptoms include weakness, headache, dizziness and confusion.

Heat exhaustion. Symptoms include heavy sweating or no sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, paleness, cold or clammy skin and fainting.

Heat stroke. Symptoms include a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, red, hot & dry skin, fast pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea and confusion

Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke, which is a life-threatening emergency for anyone. In senior adults, symptoms of heat distress need to be addressed immediately.

Beat the Heat

To keep older adults safe in the heat, take a few precautions:

Time it right. Take advantage of the cooler mornings or evenings to get outside. Stay in shady areas when possible.

Drink up. To optimize your body’s cooling mechanisms, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other caffeine-free liquids. Be sure to drink fluids with every meal and sip water throughout the day. Avoid caffeinated drinks because they can be dehydrating.

Seek air conditioning. You can still enjoy afternoons out and about by choosing activities in air-conditioned places such as libraries, movie theaters or indoor malls. Bring along a light cardigan in case an air-conditioned space becomes too chilly.

Choose a breezy style. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in the heat. Cotton and linen fabrics breathe better than synthetic clothing such as polyester. Shade your face with a wide-brimmed, lightweight hat that will keep you cooler and protect from sunburn.

Take a dip. If you don’t have access to a pool, a tepid shower or bath can cool you down, too. For quick heat relief, place a wet, cool washcloth or towel on the back of your neck, wrists, ankles and even armpits.

Tips for Caregivers

When it’s hot, plan a daily visit to an older adult who lives at home to make sure they are safe. Check to make sure they have a working air-conditioner (and that it’s on) and remind them to drink plenty of water. Monitor them for any signs of overheating such as headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

For a safe, comfortable and beautiful home that offers independence with extra help when needed, consider McKnight Place. Activities and events tailored just for senior adults are available year-round — indoors and outdoors.

Residents enjoy beautifully-landscaped gardens and walking paths, outings to favorite St. Louis attractions and restaurants, as well as an indoor movie theater, art classes, music performances, guest speakers, exercise classes, bocce ball, world-class meals and happy hours.

This social, active lifestyle is complemented by exceptional amenities and attentive services and care as needed. Families enjoy peace of mind as residents thrive in a community designed just for them. Residents expect — and receive — a higher standard in senior living at McKnight Place.

Come See For Yourself

For more information or to schedule a personal tour, please call 314-993-3333 (Assisted Living & Memory Care) or 314-993-2221 (Skilled Nursing).

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