What is Heat Stress and How to Beat the Heat
Warmer weather has finally arrived! A string of warm weather days are coming up that are leaving us with sweltering heat and it’s time to stay cool. Seniors are a population that can suffer during a series of extreme temperatures. Seniors who are at risk for heat stress are over the age of 65, live alone, have chronic illness or are on certain medications.
Heat stress is a less common term that is used for a situation where a person has absorbed too much heat which causes a variety of heat-related illness. When heat stress occurs, it is because the body cannot cool itself and maintain a normal body temperature.
Common symptoms of heat stress include:
- elevated body temperatures
- lack of sweating
- hot or dry skin
- possible neurological symptoms such as paralysis, headaches, vertigo and unconsciousness
There are obstacles that seniors face that other age groups may not experience. Physical changes to a senior’s body can play a role in heat stress. A senior’s skin may not cope as easily or as quickly with extreme temperature changes as someone who is younger. Isolation and chronic medical problems can also play a huge role in heat stress. If a senior does not have a caregiver or loved one to check in on them they can be more vulnerable to heat stress. To prevent heat stress for a senior who lives alone there are always meal delivery services or well-being checks that are available. It is also important to have a neighbor or family member check on a senior during these hot months.
Did you know that KSC provides well-being checks to seniors all over Kane County? Well being checks can prevent life threatening situations. Click here for more information on well being checks.
While sounding scary, heat stress does not have to be. There are simple ways for seniors to stay cool and healthy during the hot days besides a friendly face checking in on them. Seniors should be keeping their homes cool. Using fans and air conditioners as well as lowering the blinds are great ways to keep the home cool. Other ways to stay cool include applying cool compresses to the forehead and back of the neck. This allows the body to regulate a proper body temperature.
During these hotter temperatures, it is also very important to stay hydrated. Keep your fridge stocked with water, decaffeinated iced tea, sugar-free lemonade and other beverages. While it may be tempting to skip the water and go straight for the thirst quenching lemonade, choose water over other beverages.
If you are able to travel and are not homebound, consider heading out to a local cooling center in your community. Cooling centers are places that are designated facilities that provide relief from the heat. They offer air conditioning, water and other amenities to help keep you cool and safe. Cooling centers are great for seniors who have older homes with no air conditioning or for those that are trying to avoid an extremely high utility bill in the hot summer months.
These are just a couple of tips that will allow you to beat the heat and to enjoy summer.