Elderly and heat stroke

With a record-setting high temperatures currently sweeping across large portions of the United States, heat stroke is a rising concern among people over the age of 65, who are more prone to heat stroke then younger people. According to the Center for Disease Control, this is due to a number of factors. For one, elderly people do not adjust to sudden changes in temperature as well as young people do. Two, elderly people are more likely to have medical conditions that changes how their bodies respond to heat. Likewise, they are more likely to take prescription drugs that inhibit perspiration or make it harder for their bodies to regulate its temperature.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a type of hyperthermia that occurs when the body can’t control its temperature. When someone’s body temperature rises rapidly, it loses the ability to sweat and can’t cool down properly. Heat stroke comes on fast: in 10 to 15 minutes, body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher. Without emergency treatment, heat stroke can cause permanent disabilities and even death.

What are the signs?

Early signs of heat stroke are the same as heat exhaustion, followed by symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. Other common symptoms include:

  • High body temperature
  • Lack of sweat
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Flushed, dry skin
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Strange behavior/hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Seizure/coma

How to prevent heat stroke

Making sure an elderly person is in a cool place and is hydrated will help prevent heat stroke. If you know your aging parent is at risk and you’re unable to physically be there to take care of them, make sure someone is checking in on them once or twice daily. Some more ways to help prevent heat stroke include:

  • Keeping hydrated
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or fluids with high amounts of sugars — these can cause the body to lose more fluid
  • Staying indoors in the air-conditioning
  • If air-conditioning isn’t available, electric fans can help
  • Wearing loose fitting, light-colored and lightweight clothing
  • Limiting outdoor activity
  • Keeping well-rested
  • Avoiding strenuous activities

Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions, currently serving Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa, provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options available for your elderly loved one who is possibly at risk for heat stroke and related complications.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts. Contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”