7 Ways Seniors Can Survive the Heat

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!


Multiple Sclerosis: Facts and Findings

Roughly 2.5 million people in the world have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), according to the World Health Organization. As stated in the Harvard Gazette, MS is a central nervous system disease, which can wreak havoc on an individual’s:

  •   muscle control
  •   strength
  •   vision
  •   balance
  •   feeling
  •   thinking

According to the National MS Society, a neurologist is usually the leading doctor who makes the diagnosis of MS and leads or refers other healthcare professionals in the effort to provide comfort, function, independence, health, and wellness to the patient.

MS works as an autoimmune disease

The immune system normally uses inflammatory cells to protect people from bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. But, in the case of autoimmune diseases, instead of protecting, they attack healthy tissue.

Scientists and researchers are continuously seeking connections between genetic and environmental factors and the risks of developing MS.  Environmental research often seeks what factors may cause an increase or decline of symptoms.

Two interesting studies were completed on the effects of high salt intake and vitamin D deficiency.


Of Mice and Men 

Mice and MenA study was performed by Dr. David Hafler, a professor of neurology and immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, which reflected that giving mice a high-salt diet caused the rodents to produce a type of infection-fighting cell that is closely associated with autoimmune diseases. The mice on salt diets developed a severe form of multiple sclerosis, called autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

Hafler’s study help explain how “helper” T-cells can drive autoimmune diseases by creating inflammation. Salt seems to cause enzymes to stimulate the creation of the helper T-cells, escalating the immune response, as reported in Health Day 03-06-2013. as reported in Health Day 03-06-2013.

But can we translate these findings to be true of men? Stay tuned…

According to Reuters, Hafler now has permission to test this on humans with MS by reducing their salt intake.  Although it may be years before anything is proven, Hafler said, “If I had MS, I would think very much about not eating processed foods and really cutting down my salt intake.”



The “Sunshine Vitamin”    sunshineIn our ever-increasing controlled temperature environments and heavy use of sunscreen, when we do venture outdoors, our modern population is strikingly Vitamin D deficient.

According to the Harvard Gazette, January 2014, researchers analyzed data from 465 MS patients from 18 European countries, Israel, and Canada who, in 2002 and 2003, enrolled in the BENEFIT (Betaseron in Newly Emerging Multiple Sclerosis for Initial Treatment) trial in which they found the benefits of adequate vitamin D levels in early stage MS patients to patients who were Vitamin D deficient included:

  •          57 percent lower rate of new brain lesions
  •          57 percent lower relapse rate
  •          25 percent lower yearly increase in lesion volume
  •          Lower loss in brain volume

The results suggest that vitamin D has a strong protective effect on the disease process underlying MS, the researchers said.

In support of these findings, the National MS Society reports that MS is known to occur more frequently in areas that are farther from the equator.


  • Harvard Gazette January 20, 2014
  • Health Day 03-06-2013
  • http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/06/us-salt-disease
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