Heatwave recommendations. How to prevent its effects on the elderly?
Extremely hot temperatures can be dangerous for the elderly for several reasons. The elderly are more likely to have chronic medical conditions exacerbated by heat. For example, someone with heart disease may be at risk for a heart attack in hot weather. Additionally, the elderly are more likely to be taking medications that can make them more susceptible to heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.
Moreover, the high summer temperatures are a very high risk for people’s health, but for the elderly, it is even more so. T
hat is why we will give you a series of recommendations on how to alleviate the effects of heat on the body. Additionally, we will give you guidelines on how to avoid heat stroke and, and in detail, discuss what temperature is dangerous for elderly.
Hot weather safety tips for older adults
On summer days and when the arrival of a heat wave is announced, we must be attentive to the signals sent to us by the body, as sunstroke or heat stroke does not occur suddenly. That is why we are going to recommend a series of precautions to avoid it:
To reduce the body’s heat sensation, avoid going out in the street during the hottest hours of the day. These hours are between 10 am and 5 pm. Walking is very healthy, but during the summer it is advisable to avoid going out midday.
To combat the hot weather for an older adult, we can cover the head of the individual with a hat or cap and wear comfortable cotton clothes in light colours. Doing so significantly reduces the heat sensation on the head and face.
The sun damages the eyesight, so to protect your vision or that of the elderly, it is highly recommended to wear sunglasses and stay in the shade as much as possible.
To care for the elderly, nutrition is also very important in summer, therefore increase the uptake of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is also advisable to eat at least five portions of fruit a day, and avoid very fatty foods and those usually consumed at high temperatures, such as stews and broths, as they take longer to digest. In addition, avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
What are some heatwave effects on the body in the elderly?
The human body’s ideal room temperature is approximately 18º to 26º, which is perfect for keeping the body’s natural heat under control, around 36º or 37º. Many factors can modify this temperature, from physical activity to illness or even menstrual cycles in the case of women of childbearing age.
However, the ambient temperature in the environment affects our bodies when it comes to maintaining ideal warmth. This begs the question, what temperature is dangerous for elderly? If the body falls below 18º or rises above 40º for any reason, this may be catastrophic as it may even cause death. Hence the ideal temperature, even according to medical professionals, is 36.5 degrees.
One natural way of losing heat naturally in the body is through sweating. This very efficient system moistens the skin to lower its temperature. The method is great but can lead to dehydration in elderly (dehydration elderly) who does not clearly detect the sensation of thirst. This is the reason why hot weather and the elderly are a dangerous combination.
It should also be noted that in environments with high relative humidity, sweating will be much less efficient as the evaporation of sweat will be much lower. Consequently, heat loss will also be reduced.
On the other hand, the body has other methods of lowering its temperature in times of need which may, in turn, prevent heat stroke in elderly citizens. This is the case with vasodilation, i.e. the increase in the thickness of the capillaries closest to the skin. This increases blood flow to this area to bring it closer to the outside of the body and lower its temperature. However, this process, which in middle-aged people can be highly efficient, can be a huge risk in older people as it involves a considerable increase in heart rate.
For this reason, extreme heat and elderly are not always great companions. It is advisable to take into account a series of basic tips for the care of the elderly. Therefore, it is important to follow the highlighted recommendations during the summer and at specific times when the dreaded heat wave makes its appearance.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion
Several symptoms start to appear when the body temperature exceeds its limit for a long period which signals that something is not working properly. People close to older people should be aware of symptoms of body heat to adequately prevent the effects of a heatwave on older adults. Here are some symptoms of heat exhaustion in elderly.
• Excessive tiredness: When the person begins to feel constant exhaustion without any known cause, this can be a warning alarm. Weakness, anxiety, tachycardia, or even mental confusion may also occur.
• Cramps: this is one of the main symptoms of excessive body heat. Muscles are affected by a lack of electrolytes due to dehydration, resulting in painful spasms, usually in the limbs or abdominal area.
• Heat stroke: extreme heat and older adults do not go hand in hand. If dehydration and exhaustion are not remedied, it even leads to the death of the affected person. You must then be able to detect sudden body heat, increased body temperature, dilated pupils, vomiting, disorientation and shivering.
• Hot flashes: Hot flushes are another sign of an elderly overheating. They are caused by excessive heat and manifest themselves in the form of a sudden sensation of heat in the face and body.
It is important to be attentive to these heat stroke symptoms and act before it is too late, as they can have fatal consequences. As a reminder, the summer is normally accompanied by high temperatures, especially during the day. Thus the summer heat and the elderly are not all friendly. They should be well looked after, especially during this season.