According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people ages 65 and older are more prone to heat stroke and heat-related stress than those of other ages. Seniors’ bodies are not able to adjust to sudden changes in temperature as quickly as younger people’s. A chronic condition that affects the body’s response to heat, as well as taking certain prescription medications also may play a role in seniors’ susceptibility to the heat.

Compounding the problem is seniors living on fixed incomes may not be able to afford to turn on air conditioners because of higher energy costs. 77277693There are different types of heat-related injuries, though heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most common. Here are signs that a person may be experiencing one or the other.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Heat Exhaustion

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

What to do

Friends or family members should check in with an elderly relative or friend when the weather is especially warm to ensure they’re safely handling the heat. In addition, people of all ages can take the following precautions to keep cool when the temperatures rise:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. Water and diluted fruit juices can help rehydrate the body quickly.
  • Restrict physical activity
  • Take a cool shower or bath or wipe yourself down with a damp cloth
  • Seek an air-conditioned environment. For without air conditioning, visit a shopping mall or library to keep cool. Some town/cities also make cooling centers available in extreme heat.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Try to remain indoors during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Wear hats or use an umbrella to shield your head when outdoors.
  • Eat cool foods, but avoid extremely cold foods as you risk the chance of developing stomach cramps.
  • Do not use appliances that contribute to extra indoor heat.

Source: Centers for Disease Control