It’s Too Darned Hot
My parents have plans to go out to lunch with friends this week. My mom hasn’t been to a restaurant in over a year. Plus, on the date they’re going, it’s supposed to be 102 degrees here. I’m not sure it’s a good idea for them to go that day. I’m watching the forecast and watching my mom.
Hot temperatures are miserable for those of us in the cool, coastal, mountainous, Pacific Northwest. For the elderly, they can be deadly. Why are the elderly at risk when the thermometer soars? Elderly folk lose the ability to interpret what their bodies are telling them. They don’t realize they’re overheated. (I started to say they lose their senses–that didn’t come out right.) They become dehydrated easily without knowing it. Medications taken by seniors make dehydration more likely. Lots of elderly people have health conditions that make them less able to tolerate heat.
In fact, a recent University of Chicago Medical Center study found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65.
What should we do to help the elderly survive heat waves?
- Make sure they drink plenty of liquids even if they don’t “feel” thirsty. By the time they notice thirst, they are already dehydrated.
- Keep them indoors, out of the sun, and in air conditioning if possible. In the heat of the day if the house is not air-conditioned, find a mall, movie theater or a public building that is. Make sure the you cool the car before they get in it.
- No exertion when it’s hot! In heat waves, seniors need to take it easy, not exercise. This is not the time to rake leaves, sweep the walkway or work in the garden. If a few plants suffer they’re replaceable, people aren’t.
- If the elderly start feeling dizzy or nauseated, have a rapid pulse, chest pain, feel faint (or actually faint) or complain of a bad headache, seek medical attention.
Make Staying Hydrated Fun
Make drinking water fun and interesting by adding sliced lemons, oranges, mint, basil, berries with ice in a glass or pitcher. Or make a slushy
drink by blending fruit, ice and water in a blender. Try adding cucumber, kiwi or watermelon. Watermelon’s high water content makes it a good choice for a snack in hot weather.
I’m still watching and waiting about the proposed outing my parents plan. It’s like you tell your children, “We’ll see.”