Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults

Older man running in the heat

It is not safe for anyone to be exposed to too much heat. People with health problems or who are older are at a greater risk. It is vital to find relief from the heat as soon as possible. In the absence of cool air, you may feel confused or faint. Too much heat can be dangerous and can cause several illnesses:

  • In hot weather, you can experience heat syncope and sudden dizziness. You are more susceptible to feeling faint if you take a beta blocker or are unfamiliar with hot weather. You can get rid of the dizziness by lying in a cool place, sitting up, and drinking water.
  • Symptoms of heat cramps include tight muscles in your stomach, arms, and legs. It is possible to experience cramps due to hard work or exercise. Heat cramps usually do not cause a rise in your body temperature or pulse, but your skin may feel cool and moist. Take steps to cool your body down. Remain cool by staying in the shade. Stay hydrated, but don’t drink alcohol or caffeine-containing beverages.
  • Heat edema is a swelling of the ankles and feet that occurs when you are too hot. Help reduce swelling by elevating your legs. Check with your doctor if that doesn’t work pretty quickly.
  • The body’s inability to keep itself cool causes heat exhaustion. Symptoms may include thirst, dizziness, weakness, incoordination, and nausea. There is a possibility that you will sweat a lot. Your body temperature can remain normal, but your skin may feel clammy and cold. Heat exhaustion can cause a rapid pulse in some people. Keep yourself cool and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical attention if you are not feeling well. A heat stroke can result from heat exhaustion.

Medical Emergencies: Heat Stroke

Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. Most older people are at risk if they live in a home or apartment without air conditioning or fans. Also at risk are dehydrated people, people with chronic diseases, and those who are alcoholics. Heat stroke is characterized by:

  • The first sign may be fainting or unconsciousness
  • Confusion, agitation, staggering, being grouchy, or acting strange are examples of behavioral changes
  • A rise in temperature over 104°F (40°C)
  • Skin flushed and dry with a rapid or slow pulse
  • Despite the heat, not sweating

Who is at risk?

Most people who die from heat-related deaths are over 50 years old. You are at a higher risk for the following health problems:

  • Blood vessel or heart problems
  • Normal aging can cause your sweat glands to malfunction or your skin to change
  • Diseases of the heart, lungs, or kidneys, as well as any illness that causes weakness or fever
  • It may be more challenging for your body to cool itself when taking drugs, such as sedatives, diuretics, tranquilizers, and some heart and blood pressure medicines.
  • You are taking several prescription drugs; ask your doctor if any of those medications cause you to become overheated.
  • Obesity or underweight
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages

Risk-Reduction: How to lower your risk

Reduce your risk of heat-related illness by:

  • Keep hydrated with water or fruit or vegetable juices. Avoid alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks. When it is sweltering, ask your doctor what to do if you need to limit your liquid intake.
  • To keep your home as comfortable as possible without fans or air conditioning, use these tips: don’t overuse the oven. Keep your shades, blinds, or curtains closed when it’s hot outside.
  • Nighttime is an excellent time to open your windows.
  • Spend time during the day in an air-conditioned place-for example, go to a shopping mall, a movie theater, a library, or a friend’s house if your house is too hot.
  • A friend or relative can help you get to a cool place if you need it. Many religious groups, senior centers, and area agencies on aging offer this service. Call a taxi or a senior transportation service if necessary. Waiting for a bus outside in the heat is not a good idea.
  • Adapt your clothing to the weather. Cotton, for example, is considered cooler than synthetic fibers by some people.
  • Exercise and other outdoor activities should be avoided when the weather is hot.
  • It’s best to avoid crowded places when it’s hot outside. Don’t plan trips during rush hours.

Follow weather forecasts

A heat-related illness is more likely if the temperature or humidity rises or there is an air pollution alert. So before going outside, check the weather report.

Preventing heat stroke:

Heat and humidity can be challenging for older people. You can get a heat-related illness without reaching 100°F (38°C) inside or outside. You may have a heat-related illness if you experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, or nausea. If you need treatment, see your doctor or go to the emergency room.

Follow these steps:

  • The best way to keep comfortable is to get out of the sun and into an air-conditioned room.
  • Stay hydrated, but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Juices and water are both excellent choices.
  • Cool off with a shower, bath, or wet cloth.
  • Find a cool place to lie down and rest.
  • If you don’t cool down within a short period, you should visit your doctor or go to the emergency room.

Check-in with seniors

Consider visiting older relatives and neighbors every day during hot weather. Ensure they drink plenty of water or juice if their doctor has not recommended otherwise. You might be able to help them go somewhere cool, such as air-conditioned malls, libraries, or senior centers, if there is a heat wave.

If you are worried about your elderly family member and area heat, it might be a good time to consider assisted living. Please reach out to Three Tree Living for a tour.

Note: All information on this website is for educational & informational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult a doctor.