Elderly at Risk for Heat Related Problems
The elderly may be
much more susceptible to heat-related problems due to a combination of
age-related factors, according to experts in a recent article in the
Health Day News (August 11, 2007). According to information provided
by the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health and Aging,
older adults can't cool down as well as younger adults due to various
age-related physical changes. It is also believed that the elderly
may not feel as hot when temperatures are actually very high, and may
also be less likely to feel thirsty even when they are very close to
being dehydrated according to the foundation’s report.
These factors are
believed to contribute to potentially serious health problems during
extreme heat along with increased risk of death for the elderly. It is
believed that in the United States, about 200 people die of
health-related problems each year caused by high heat and humidity.
Most of these victims of heat related death are age 50 or older.
diabetes and certain other diseases that are very common among the
elderly can make it very difficult for older individuals to cope with
high heat and humidity according to the foundation report. These same
concerns also include a number of drugs including allergy and sinus
medications, water pills and medications for nerve problems and
It is probably
good to take special precautionary measures when temperatures reach
90°F or above for elderly adults. The American Geriatrics Society’s
Foundation for Health and Aging also offered some hot weather safety
tips for older adults:
Turn on the air
conditioner or go to a place that's air-conditioned, such as a
shopping mall, grocery store, senior center, movie theatre, museum
Fans are not
sufficient in extremely hot weather.
Do not walk long
distances, lift heavy objects, or do other strenuous activities.
Drink a lot of
water and other clear drinks that do not contain alcohol or
If your urine is
a light yellow, you're probably drinking enough water.
If it's dark
yellow, you should probably drink more water.
showers, baths, or sponge baths.
light-weight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
Stay out of the
sun as much as possible.
If you go
outside, wear a hat.
Additional Information and
webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate