Heat is a potentially deadly problem—nearly 400 Americans suffer fatal consequences from heat wavessun_thermometer-300x225 each year. Most of them are elderly people who often don’t realize when they are overheating and in danger. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the elderly simply can’t handle the heat as well as younger people, because they don’t sweat as effectively and have poorer circulation. In addition, medical conditions such as dementia, diabetes, obesity medication-adherenceand other chronic conditions can compound the risk of heat stroke. Certain medications, including those for Parkinson’s and hypertension also increase the risk.

To protect seniors, the standard advice is to get them into an air-conditioned building; have them dress lightly; and keep them hydrated.

Caregivers should stay on the alert for signs of confusion or altered mental states in seniors who are out in hot weather, as it could be a sign of heat stroke. If the elderly person should collapse or pass out, it’s a medical emergency. 911 should be called immediately.

Here are seven ways to protect seniors from heat:

1) If elderly relatives complain of the cold indoors, ease off the air conditioning a bit. If they won’t stay inside, have them sit on a shady porch near a fan.elderly-movie

2) To keep the house cooler without running the air conditioning, close curtains or blinds on the east side of the home during the morning, and the west side in the afternoon.

3) If the elderly person doesn’t have air conditioning or refuses to use it in a heat wave, make sure they spend some time in a cool air-conditioned space like a mall or theater. They can stay cool and be entertained.

4) Offer plenty of drinks that seniors prefer, but stay away from highly caffeinated drinks, or sodas loaded with sodium and sugar. Steer clear of alcohol, which is dehydrating.

watermelon5) Keep frozen treats available that have a high water and low sugar content, like sugar-free Popsicles). Or serve fruit with high water content, like watermelon.

6) Seniors sometimes dress inappropriately for warm weather, so make sure that their clothing is lightweight, not form-fitting and light in color. Hats are useful, but make sure that they are loosely woven or ventilated so they don’t trap heat and broad-brimmed so they shade the entire face.

7) UV Rays are harsh. Ensure seniors are wearing protective sunglasses and sunblock if they will be outdoors at all.hat

Keep cool, safe and enjoy the last blast of summer heat!

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