Senior Care Tips for Preventing Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke
For many people, summer is the best time of year. But for seniors and senior care providers, the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke can make the season a cause for alarm.
Heat is a big risk for elderly adults. Seniors have more trouble maintaining body temperature than younger adults, putting seniors at risk of heat stroke in hot and sunny conditions. Worse yet, elderly adults who experience heat stroke have a much higher risk of mortality.
As such, it’s critical that we reduce seniors’ risk of heat exhaustion during summer months. To do so, seniors and senior care providers must take precautions against heat and sun exposure.
Meanwhile, caregivers should familiarize themselves with the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and learn how to respond in the event of either.
Senior Care Tips for Hot and Sunny Weather
Seniors and senior care providers can reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke taking the following precautions in hot or sunny weather.
- During hot weather, seniors should drink plenty of water and other fluids, with the exception of alcoholic beverages.
- Seniors should avoid overexerting themselves in hot or warm weather.
- Sunscreen should always be worn outside on summer days, even on cloudy days with mostly indirect sunlight.
- When outdoors, seniors should wear light, loose-fitting clothing and a shady hat.
- When outside in sunny weather, seniors should find cool, shady areas and avoid direct sunlight.
- During lengthy, outdoor activities, seniors should take regular breaks to return indoors and spend time in a cool, climate-controlled area.
- In periods of extreme heat, seniors should remain indoors in a cool, climate-controlled area at all times.
- Senior caregivers should regularly monitor seniors for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
When seniors experience heat exhaustion or heat stroke, action must be taken as soon as possible. Heat exhaustion accelerates faster in seniors than in younger adults, and it becomes life-threatening more quickly. Senior care providers should know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so that they can act as soon as these signs become noticeable.
Signs of heat exhaustion — in which a person’s body temperature is between 99 to 102 F — include:
- Excessive sweating
- Pale, cool, and/or moist skin
- Accelerated pulse
- Quick, shallow breathing
- Physical weakness
- Muscle cramps
If a senior’s body temperature is 103 F or higher, they are suffering from heat stroke. The symptoms of heat stroke are similar to heat exhaustion, with some differences:
- The person stops sweating completely
- Their skin becomes red, hot, and/or dry
- Symptoms such as cramps, headache, or nausea may become more severe
- The person may become confused or disoriented, suffer a seizure, or lapse into unconsciousness
Treating Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke
A senior who shows signs of heat exhaustion should be brought indoors to a cool, climate-controlled area as quickly as possible. They should be given plenty of fluids, steps should be taken to help them cool off, and their body temperature should be monitored to ensure that it does not reach 103 F.
If a senior is exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke — or if their body temperature is measured at 103 F or higher —you should call 911 immediately. The senior should be taken to a cool, shaded, and preferably climate-controlled area. Any unnecessary clothing should be removed, and if the person is conscious, they should be given plenty of fluids.
Senior Care Services and Heat Risks
During periods of hot weather, seniors should be monitored regularly by family or friends. This way, someone is there to encourage proper precautions and to check for signs of heat exhaustion. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Busy schedules or long distances can leave elderly adults without someone to monitor and assist them, putting them at high risk for heat exhaustion.
Many families solve this dilemma through professional senior care services. Professional caregivers can attend to seniors during periods of hot weather, providing elderly adults with the assistance they need to reduce their risk of heat exhaustion. If symptoms of heat exhaustion present themselves, caregivers can ensure quick action is taken.
Call Preferred HealthStaff at (866) 943-9791 today to request a free, in-home consultation or learn more about our senior care services.
* Note: If you are concerned about your loved one’s health or risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, please contact their doctor. The information contained in this article is meant as informative only and should not be considered a recommendation for care, treatment or diagnosis.