Heat & the Elderly

We've discussed how to keep your cool in hot weather, but what about some advice for older people on staying safe in hot weather?

Since the risk of heat-related health problems increases with age, special considerations need be made. ??

Senior-HeatAccording to the National Institutes for Health, heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after prolonged exposure to the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are forms of hyperthermia, which is caused by a failure of the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms to deal with a hot environment. The combination of individual lifestyle, general health, and high temperatures can increase older adults’ risk for heat-related problems.

There are many things that can increase risk for hyperthermia, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat production
  • Use of multiple medications-it is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.
  • Reduced sweating caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs
  • High blood pressure or other health conditions that require changes in diet- people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk, however, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a doctor.
  • Heart, lung and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever
  • Being substantially overweight or underweight
  • Alcohol use

For a free copy of the National Institute on Aging's Age Page on hyperthermia in English or in Spanish, contact the NIA Information Center at 1-800-222-2225 or go to https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/agepages.

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