Helping Seniors Beat the Heat

The entire east coast is undergoing a severe heat wave, with record setting temperatures and code red air quality for days on end. It is important that every person, and especially seniors, take steps to ensure that they are not overcome by a heat related illness.

The following tips from Dr. Robert Luchi, a Professor of Medicine-Geriatrics, and from can help seniors beat the heat:

* If you don’t have air conditioning head to to the shopping mall, senior center, library, movie theater, or place of worship, and plan to spend some time there in the cool air.

* Cool baths or showers can provide relief. Ice bags and wet towels are also helpful.

* Beware of dehydration. Drink water before outdoor activities and drink water at regular intervals during the day, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcoholic beverages because such drinks can lead to dehydration.

* Curtail physical activity during extremely hot weather. Activity adds to heart strain. If you must do something outside, take frequent rest breaks, preferably in the shade. Try to schedule outdoor activities for cooler times of the day–before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

* Avoid heavy meals. Limit salt use.

* Wearing loose fitting, lightweight clothing will allow for good air circulation around your body.

* Use a hat or umbrella to protect your head and neck from sun exposure and be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater anytime you go outside.

* Take the heat seriously. Dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, headache, chest pain, mental changes or breathing problems are warning signs that you should seek immediate medical attention.

* If you have a chronic medical problem, talk with your doctor about additional precautions you should take to prevent heat related illness. Some conditions and medications may place you at higher risk.

* If you show any signs of heat related illness try to get to a cooler place as soon as possible, sip some cool fluids and sponge yourself off with with lukewarm tap water.

The Gatesman Law Office wishes you a safe and healthy summertime.