Friday, 26 July 2019

GUEST POST - Staying Cool: Why Seniors are at a Higher Risk for Heatstroke and How to Prevent it


For most people, the summertime season means trips to the beach, pool parties, barbecues and long summer nights. For others, particularly older adults, summer can be a much tougher time.

As we grow older, regulating our body temperature becomes more difficult and we fail to adjust well to changes in temperature. The result is an increased risk for heatstroke among seniors.

Heatstroke is a type of heat injury that occurs when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is unable to regulate itself. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that can be fatal when not properly treated.

Below is some information about why seniors are more vulnerable to heatstroke and some steps that can be taken to prevent it.

Why Seniors Get Heatstroke

There are a few different reasons why an older adult may be more susceptible to heatstroke. 

Lack of sweating

Sweating is a heat-regulating mechanism, and if we’re not sweating, we’re not regulating heat. We don’t sweat as much in old age, which leaves seniors more prone to heat stress in the summer.

Dehydration

Dehydration hits older adults harder than younger individuals. And if your body is dehydrated, it can’t regulate your core temperature as effectively and heatstroke can set in.

Health Factors & Lifestyle Choices

There are also certain health factors and lifestyle choices that can increase the likelihood of developing heatstroke, and these factors are more common in adults over the age of 65. These include:

      Chronic illnesses like heart, lung and kidney diseases
      High blood pressure
      Medications that reduce sweating
      Low-sodium diets
      Overdressing
      Lack of access to air-conditioning
      Living or visiting hot climates
      Dehydration
      Poor blood circulation
      Obesity

Heat Stroke Warning Signs

It's important to know the warning signs of heatstroke in seniors so you can seek medical attention immediately.

Some early warning signs include:

       Fatigue
       Muscle cramps
       Excessive sweating
       Dizziness
       Headaches
       Muscle cramps
       Dry skin
       Flushed skin
       Rapid pulse

The early signs of heatstroke may lead to a more severe case, so it's important to take action as soon as you notice any signs. More serious symptoms include confusion, nausea, fainting, vomiting, seizures and even coma.

Preventing Heat Stroke

Perhaps the biggest problem with heat stroke is that many older adults may not even notice their body is overheating until they start feeling ill. The good news is that there are a few ways to reduce your chances of heat stroke.

       Pay close attention to your body if you’re out in the heat. If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately lie down in a cool place. Drink cold fluids, take a cool bath, or use cold towels to lower your body temperature.

       When you feel thirsty, your body's ability to regulate heat begins to lessen. Drinking plenty of water or beverages with electrolytes is an excellent way to help prevent dehydration and heatstroke, and be sure to avoid alcohol in the hot summer months.

       Wear loose clothes and don't overdress. When choosing what to wear in the summer, go with light and breathable clothes.

       Keep the house cool and on a regulated temperature or keep a fan running nearby.

Summer should be a season to enjoy, not one that puts you in danger. So take the proper steps and soak up that warm, summer sun in a healthy manner. 

Contributed by: Christian Worstell
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Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Friday, 12 July 2019

How Do You Know When To Be Concerned?

As we age, our bodies and minds change. Our memory is not as good. Arthritis sets in and joint pain becomes common. We may have illnesses that are harder to fight. And the list goes on. But how do you know when to be concerned? How do you know when you might start needing extra help to be safe or should go to a doctor to make sure everything you are feeling is simply a normal part of aging? If you have elderly loved ones, how do you know when its time to intervene and discuss your concerns?
There are often tell-tale signs that you need to begin having a conversation or looking for resources to assist,  if you take the time to observe yourself/your environment or that of your elder loved one's.

1. Can the senior take care of themselves? Are they having any hygiene issues, do they seem unkempt suddenly? What about their home? Is it looked after and tidy? If not, has this changed recently? Check the fridge - are there expired bottles and food in the fridge? Are there burnt pots on the stove?Have you noticed a sudden weight loss or weight gain?

2. Are there recent, sudden or new memory issues that seem more than just a bit of normal forgetfulness? Do they get lost when leaving the house? How significant are the things they are forgetting?

3. Do you notice any safety issues in the home? If there are stairs, are they safe and steady to climb them? Have there been any unexplained recent falls or injury? Can they walk safely unassisted or if they have a walker or cane, do they use it consistently? Do they take medications safely and when they are supposed to? Do they drive a car and if so are they obeying traffic rules and are they safe driving?

4. Has anything changed about their mood? Are they still as social as they were or has this changed? Do they call you more or less frequently than in the past?

If any of these questions cause you to wonder if there may be an issue, start by discussing it with your loved one to see if they have similar concerns. Go to the family doctor and discuss the same with them - there may be simple answers to some of what you see - it could have to do with medications or an underlying illness. Of immediate concern would be safety issues so do what you can to address them and look into assistive devices or an assessment by an Occupational Therapist. You may want to look at eligibility for home care through your local government service or other types of services in the community through a local seniors agency (for example, meals on wheels, personal alarm systems, grocery delivery, friendly visiting... etc.). If concerns are significant, it may be time to start exploring local retirement or long-term care homes with your loved one. Do keep in mind that the earlier you address problems and concerns, the more choice you have and the more time you have to make adjustments to an in-home situation. As well, no decisions should be made without the cooperation and knowledge of the senior involved. Sometimes a senior doesn't realize they need help or doesn't want to admit it - bringing your concerns to them, may free them to start discussing options with you. There are many ways to discuss concerns with your loved one. For more information download our Free E-book The Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living and review Section 1 - Where do I Begin?