Heat Illness Awareness and Prevention for Seniors

Categories: General

Heat Illness Awareness and Prevention for Seniors

Governor Doug Ducey recently proclaimed May 23-27 Heat Awareness Week in Arizona, and May 27 is recognized nationally as National Heat Awareness Day. Overexposure to heat can cause serious illness, in some cases especially for seniors, and Christian Care Communities wants to improve senior health and wellness.

That’s why Fellowship Square offers tips to help you stay cool this summer. It’s especially important because ABC 15 News has reported that heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer — and believe it or not, that’s not just in Arizona. The National Weather Service states that heat kills more people than earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, lightning and tornadoes combined.

In a state where summer temps of 115 and higher are impossible to avoid, how can Arizona senior living residents prevent illness from the heat? Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:

Drink up — Staying hydrated is important all year round, but particularly during the hot summer months and even more so after spending time outdoors or in the sun. Remember that when exercising and sweating, even in the swimming pool, the body loses fluid. It’s crucial to replace the fluids lost from sweat.

Respect the Warnings — Pay close attention to excessive heat watches or heat advisories and avoid spending prolonged periods of time outdoors during those times. Plan outside activities for early morning or later evening when the sun is not as intense and the weather is slightly cooler, and remember to bring water on the go! Seniors may want to consider taking time off from their outside activities such as hiking or biking and instead trying some indoor fitness classes or activities included with their independent community living.

Be Mindful of Heat Stroke Symptoms — Excessive heat can cause heat stroke, the most serious of the heat-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This “occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature.” As a result, the body’s temperature rises rapidly, its sweating mechanism fails, and the victim is simply unable to cool down.

If experiencing heat stroke, it’s important to seek emergency treatment right away. Symptoms of heat stroke can include confusion or an altered mental status, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, hot and dry skin or excessive sweating, seizure, and very high body temperature.

Heat exhaustion is another heat-related illness that seniors, whether in community assisted living or independent senior living, are particularly prone to. This is the body’s response to excessive loss of water and salt, generally from profuse sweating. Symptoms can include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, and heavy sweating.

Create a Neighborhood “Heat Watch” — During the summertime, seniors in independent living retirement communities might consider creating an informal heat watch program with neighbors. The idea is to check with one another to make sure everyone is okay, staying hydrated and avoiding too much heat exposure.

Fellowship Square Historic Mesa encourages seniors to heed heat warnings and to pay close attention to any possible symptoms this summer, as well as to check in on one another and to drink plenty of water.

To learn more about how Fellowship Square residents stay cool during the summer, view the community choices or schedule a visit at your convenience.

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