Summer is a dangerous time for seniors

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, July 4, 2012

By Tyler Spivey

The high temperatures this summer are a health risk for everyone, but they are especially dangerous for senior citizens.

Seniors have an increased chance of developing heat stroke and heat exhaustion than the younger generations, according to the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The older you get the more your body reacts to certain conditions,” said Janet Motes, director of the Colley Senior Complex. “The body isn’t able to rehydrate as quickly.”

Motes advised seniors to stay inside and to stay hydrated; she also encouraged everyone to check on neighbors.

Motes also said anyone who needs to seek relief from the heat is welcome at the senior center.

Ann Collins, a local senior and patron of the complex said she has been very careful to stay indoors, and that she has made a “conscious decision” to drink more water.

The ADSS urges seniors to avoid strenuous activity during the warmest parts of the day, and to wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.

The department also reports that some medications and health conditions can cause an inability to tolerate heat.

Signs of heat stroke include hot and red skin, changes in consciousness, rapid, shallow breathing a weak pulse and a high body temperature.

Merri Burk, assistant director of nursing at Troy Health and Rehabilitation defined a heat stroke as a “loss of body fluids related to the heat.”

Burk recommended for seniors to keep out of direct sunlight and to protect their skin.

A few signs of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, headache, dizziness, and nausea or vomiting.

In case of an emergency, call 991 and move into a cooler area, Burk advised.

According to the department of senior services, a heat stroke is a life-threatening situation.

If you encounter a person suffering from heat stroke, the department suggests moving the person in to a cool place, applying wet towels and sheets or a fan, and if necessary cooling the person’s body with a bath.

For more information on fighting the heat contact the Alabama Department of Senior Services or any local senior center.