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Senior Caregiving - Dangers of Excessive Heat for the Elderly

by Amy, August 01, 2015

senior caregiving

While temperatures in the San Francisco area don't typically rise to dangerous levels during summer months, global warming is resulting in increased temperatures across the nation. At Care Indeed, our senior caregiving professionals know that extreme heat can be dangerous, particularly for the elderly. You may be surprised to learn that in the U.S., heat is the top weather-related killer. While it's been nearly 30 years since the U.S. began keeping records of heat-related fatalities, the numbers rise each year.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two conditions everyone should be aware of, particularly the very young and those who are older, who are most vulnerable. Excessive sweating depletes salt in the body, which can result in heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, which occurs when the temperature of the body rises to about 107 degrees F. Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention.

What are the common symptoms of heat exhaustion? Headache, dizziness, pallor, increase in heart rate, disorientation, and nausea or vomiting are symptoms you should be on the alert for.

Even in those who are young or elderly, who is at the highest risk for heat exhaustion or heatstroke? Those who have respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, or emphysema, and those with diabetes. However, it's important to keep in mind that individuals of any age or even those in the best conditions can be vulnerable to the damage excessive heat can cause. When outdoors during a heat wave, be sure to drink plenty of water, avoid strenuous activity, and wear clothing that is loose fitting and light in color. Also, avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol, as these types of drinks can further dehydrate the body.

Every year countless seniors die because of excessive heat, particularly those who do not have air conditioning or fans. When temperatures soar, check on the elderly often - and never underestimate the danger of heat.

At Care Indeed, our San Francisco in home care experts want to keep families of those who are aging updated and aware of everything you can do to help an aging loved one. Contact us today for all of your home care needs!