Enjoy summer safely by learning tips to avoid heat stroke for seniors from Dr. Andrew Repasy, a geriatric medicine specialist at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, in our latest Living Well podcast episode.
Dr. Repasy explains why the older population is at greater risk of heat stroke. “These individuals don’t perceive heat as well as younger folks. The central body temperature rises, and before you know it, they can actually be in critical condition.”
Older adults sweat less than they did when they were younger, and are more likely to overheat. Prescription medications, as well as health conditions such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema can also increase an older adult’s risk for heat stroke.
To avoid heat stroke for seniors, understand the key warning signs
The majority of heat stroke incidents occur in people over age 65. It’s important to become familiar with the symptoms of heat stroke so you can take action immediately.
“Heat stroke happens during elevated temperatures — typically that means daytime temperature readings over 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and evening temperatures in the 80s,” explains Dr. Repasy.
The key warning sign for heat stroke is confusion. If you feel disoriented during a period of high temperatures, heat stroke stroke may be the reason.
For treatment, call 911
If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
Emergency treatment with cold water immersion and cold pack can reduce your core temperature and improve your condition.
Steps to avoid heat stroke for seniors
A few simple actions can reduce your risk of heat stroke. Pay attention to the weather report and watch for heat wave warnings. Ensure you’re in a cool environment, especially if you’re in a high rise building or living in an urban area, which can have higher outdoor temperatures due to lack of vegetation.
It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day in order to avoid heat stroke for seniors. Juice, water, milk and tea are best.
Also, if you have a loved one who falls into the risk category for heat stroke, Dr. Repasy suggests calling them at least two or three times per day during a heat wave, especially if they live alone. Check on their fluid intake. Pay close attention to how they speak. If what they’re saying is confusing, it may be time to call 911.
Listen to Living Well for our interview with Dr. Andrew Repasy, a physician specializing in geriatric medicine at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, here.