As many of you may know, high temperatures and heat waves can be quite dangerous to elderly people, particularly in hot climates like Florida. Putting your loved one in an assisted living facility is a good way to ensure they will be cared for and safe during those hot summer months. There are many serious health risks that senior citizens face when exposed to high temperatures, including; sunburns, sun poisoning, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. It is imperative for you to recognize these conditions, their symptoms, how to prevent them, and how to treat them. This article will take a look at some of the common health issues caused by high temperatures, their symptoms, and how to prevent them.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
When caring for elderly people, particularly in summer months, it is important to watch out for heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is less severe than heat stroke, but can still be dangerous.
Common symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
- Heavy sweating
- Weakened or quicker pulse
- Elevated temperature that is under 104 degrees
Heat stroke has more severe symptoms, including:
- Slurred speech
- Red skin
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- A temperature that is at or above 104 degrees
If left untreated heat stroke can lead to organ failure and death. If an elderly person, you are caring for, is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, you should take them inside, or into the shade, help them remove extra layers of clothing, and make sure they drink as much water as possible. To quickly lower their body temperature, you can dab them with a damp cloth or submerge them in a cool bath. If an elderly person is exhibiting signs or heat stroke, you should take them to the emergency room or call 911 immediately. Taking preventative measures against heat stroke is key for senior health. Make sure that they remain hydrated throughout the day and take the time to rest during physical activities. Learning the signs of heat stroke and how to prevent is a vital part of caring for seniors.
Sunburns and Sun Poisoning
Another thing to watch for when caring for elderly people is sunburns. Seniors are more sensitive the effects of the sun and can burn more easily.
Sun poisoning typically includes:
To prevent these conditions, you should make sure to apply sunscreen with a high SPF 20-30 minutes before going outside and reapply the sunscreen every two hours. Elderly people should avoid being out in the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to avoid the harshest rays of the sun. If they must go out during this time of day, it is important to make sure that they wear sunglasses, wide brim hats, and light long sleeved clothing to protect their skin. Taking these preventative measures are vital in preventing sunburns and sun poisoning and maintaining senior health.
Dehydration is a common risk of being outside in the sun and not getting enough fluids. Dehydration is even more dangerous for older adults and can be a huge risk to senior health. Severe hydration can be fatal but can be easy enough to avoid if you make sure that seniors stay hydrated throughout the day.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Having a dry mouth
- Having dark urine or urinating infrequently
- Muscle cramps
Those who are severely dehydrated may suffer from:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dry skin
- Rapid or shallow breathing
To prevent dehydration, make sure that they drink water or suck on ice chips. If consuming liquids doesn’t relieve symptoms, or the senior loses consciousness you should call 911 or take them to the emergency room.
Professionals in the Sunshine State
Summer in the Florida area can be a dangerous time for senior citizens; it is important to watch out for sun burns, dehydration and heat stroke. Assisted living homes, like Watermark of Gulf Breeze, are there to make sure your loved ones are safe and cared for during those hot summer months. The staff at Watermark knows how important it is to watch out for your loved one’s health in extreme heat so that you can rest easy. Senior living communities are ideal for senior health because they know what symptoms to look for and how to prevent and treat conditions caused by high temperatures. However, it is important for everyone to know the signs of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sunburns, sun poisoning, and dehydration, because senior health and safety are on all of us.