It’s already May, and if the Florida weather does what it typically does, our temperatures should be rising to “swelter level” fairly soon. Now that the state is open and day trips are back on the table, it’s prudent to review how to protect seniors (and everyone we love) from the sun – after all, many people have not been outdoors for any length of time for two years. If you have an elderly loved one who loves being outside, it is vital to understand and address the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. The elderly population is highly vulnerable in this regard.

senior health

How Can You Recognize Heat Stroke?

Heatstroke, which is also known as heat exhaustion, is caused by overexposure to hot temperatures and blazing sunlight. The body can overheat when the mercury soars, especially in individuals with underlying health conditions.  Many medications, such as those for heart conditions, can elevate a senior’s risk even further.

The symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • excessive sweating
  • clammy skin
  • “goosebumps” even in high heat
  • headaches and migraines
  • dizziness or fainting spells
  • rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea and darkly colored urine
  • Muscle cramping
  • Confusion and disorientation

If you are outside with your loved one and suspect they are suffering from heat stroke, there are a few things you can do immediately.

  • Look for a shady location to get out of the sun immediately.
  • If possible, go inside an air-conditioned building or vehicle. Do not allow the patient to get into the vehicle until the interior is cooled off.
  • Loosen or remove any tight clothing.
  • Apply a cold compress to the forehead or wrap the body in a wet towel.
  • Call a physician for advice or go to an urgent care center.

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion

If you are planning an outdoor outing with an elderly loved one, here are some precautions to consider.

Clothing: Before leaving, ensure that your loved one is wearing appropriate clothing. The best choice is lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to allow the body to cool itself off sufficiently. Fabrics that are too heavy or do not “breathe” can overheat the system and cause heatstroke.

Hydration: You’ll want to bring plenty of fluids with you. It is best to have a cooler of water with you at all times so that it is readily available as needed. Although it may be tempting to grab a margarita or a cup of coffee, these types of drinks can further dehydrate the body. Avoid all alcohol and caffeine while outside in the sun.

Sunscreen: Everyone understands by now that sunscreen is a necessity. Choose 15 SPF or higher, and reapply as necessary. You can also keep the sun off the skin by bringing a large golf umbrella and wearing a hat with a brim.

Schedule: The sun is the strongest between noon and 4 p.m. Scheduling all outdoor activities before and after can help avoid heat stroke. If your plans require you to be outside during that window of time, keep plenty of liquids, seek shade often, and bring a golf umbrella to carry with you.

At A Banyan Residence, we encourage our residents to enjoy life in all its facets – but we know that proper precautions are necessary. Our professional staff is dedicated to protecting the health of all our guests. If you are looking for a quality assisted living residence in the Venice area, call today to schedule a tour.