Although fall has begun in most of the country, here in South Florida we will be experiencing summer-like temperatures for another couple of months. Due to the recent pandemic, many seniors have not had the opportunity to be very active over the last several months. But with the state opening up and restrictions gradually being lifted, we are hopeful to see things return to normal sooner rather than later. If you have an elderly loved one who loves the outdoors, it is imperative to understand and recognize the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Even into the fall season, our temperatures can cause extreme reactions, especially in a vulnerable elderly population.
What Is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke (or heat exhaustion) is the result of overexposure to high temperatures which cause the body to overheat. Individuals with underlying health conditions or on certain medications are especially susceptible to this condition, meaning seniors are very much at risk.
The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include profuse sweating and clammy skin; “goosebumps” and chills even in high heat; headaches; rapid heartbeat; dizziness or fainting spells; stomach or muscle cramps; nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea and dark colored urine. A person suffering heat exhaustion is likely to appear confused and disoriented.
If you suspect you or a loved one are experiencing heat exhaustion, act quickly to avoid more serious heat-related health issues. Get into an air conditioned area as soon as possible, or at least find a shady spot if indoors is not an option. Loosen or remove tight-fitting or unnecessary clothing and cool down with an ice pack or cool compress. With elderly individuals, it is always best to seek the advice of a physician, even if you feel you have the situation under control.
Did You Know? Many common medications can significantly increase the chances of heat stroke, such as certain heart and blood pressure drugs; diuretics, beta blockers, and antihistamines. Those who have suffered any type of heat exhaustion in the past are also predisposed to have another episode, so be sure to ask your doctor about any concerns regarding being out in the Florida sun.
Keep Your Loved One Safe from Heat Exhaustion
If you are going to take your elderly loved one out on an excursion on a hot day, there are a few important things to remember:
Make sure they dress appropriately: Lightweight clothing which is loose-fitting or flowy will permit the body to cool adequately. Heavy or nonbreathable fabrics can cause overheating.
Keep them hydrated: Be sure to provide plenty of fluids throughout the day, such as water or sports drinks with electrolytes. If possible, encourage them to avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these will contribute to dehydration.
Keep the skin protected: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and reapply on regular intervals throughout the day. Encourage them to wear broad-brimmed sun hats and sunglasses, and bring along a large umbrella to provide shade if necessary.
Choose the right time of day: Between the hours of noon and 4 p.m., the sun and heat are at their peak, Planning outdoor activities before and after that window can help to protect from heat stroke. If your destination requires you to be outside during that time, keep plenty of liquids on hand and seek out shade.
At A Banyan Residence we encourage our residents to enjoy all aspects of their life, but to take proper precautions. Our compassionate and professional staff is here to ensure the health and safety of all our guests. If you are looking for quality assisted living options in the Venice area, we invite you to visit us.