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Elderly Vulnerable for Heat Related Illnesses

It’s no secret that as a body ages, it becomes more fragile and sensitive to certain environments. One of the deadliest environments for an elderly person is the extreme heat. They are one of the most vulnerable groups during a heat wave. So what makes grandma and grandpa more susceptible to heat related illnesses?

First of all, you have to factor in their bodies. The processes that control heat regulation just don’t work as well as they once did. As a person gets older, the functionality of their sweat glands diminishes. Just like children have trouble maintaining a normal body temperature, the elderly struggle to fight the heat. Another factor for the elderly is their medication. Many common medications do not mix well with the heat. Other medical conditions that affect heat tolerance as listed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health include: congestive heart failure, diabetes, and obstructive pulmonary disease. (US News) Health issues with the mind can also put them at higher risk because the mentally ill do not always respond to cues from their bodies. These underlying health problems put the elderly at higher risk for heat related illness, but the heat also puts the elderly at risk for experiencing other health problems. “The extra strain on the heart because of changes in blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke.” (BBC News) One news article even stated that there are usually spikes in deaths a week to ten days after the beginning of a heat wave. (Washington’s Top News)

However, don’t let all of this scare you from going outside. It just means that older people need to use a little more caution when they do go out in the heat. We have a few suggestions:

  • Avoid drinking coffee or alcohol and drink water even when you’re not thirsty. Staying hydrated is very important and nothing quenches your thirst like water.
  • Use the buddy system. Be around other people so you all can help each other out. Monitor body temperature and know the signs of heat related illness.
  • Be ready to cool down. If you do go out and about, stay close to shaded, cool areas or buildings with air conditioning in them. That way if you do start to feel overheated or see someone start to overheat you can cool down quickly.

The Hot Dot Body Temperature Alert Patch can help you in the heat by alerting you when your body temperature has reached a potentially unsafe level. Do NOT rely solely on the Hot Dot Body Temperature Alert Patch. If you believe you or someone close to you is showing signs of severe heat related illness, call for emergency help or consult a health professional.

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