Dangers of Heatstroke
Adventures in Eldercare July 2014
Summer 2014 has begun and a very hot humid summer has been forecast in Southern Ontario. Along with these hot days and nights comes the need for an important conversation about preventing heatstroke. To stay safe in the summer heat, it is important to stay hydrated and to be smart about how long you stay outdoors and how you protect yourself from heat exposure both outside and inside the home.
Summer temperatures can reach dangerous levels that can lead to fatalities from heatstroke. Also known as sun stroke, heat stroke, especially in the elderly, must be treated as a medical
emergency and taken care of immediately.
Older seniors in general are more prone to heat sensitivity and heat stroke, based on a variety of risk factors. Familiarize yourself with the heatstroke risk factors and you will not only protect yourself but you may be able to save the life of an elderly neighbour or family member.
Heatstroke Risk Factors
Advanced Age: As the natural aging process takes its course, the body becomes less able to adjust to temperature changes.
Chronic conditions: Chronic medical conditions including kidney disease, heart and lung disease, all common conditions, often change how an older adult reacts to heat.
Prescription medicines: Certain medications that are commonly prescribed to elder patients can limit the body’s ability to regulate both temperature and perspiration.
Socio-demographic factors: We often see seniors who live on their own ignoring symptoms of heat stroke. Low-income older adults can be hesitant to turn on fans or air conditioning units in an attempt to lower electric bills in the summer months.
Symptoms of Heatstroke
Different from a brain-based stroke, but serious nonetheless, symptoms of heatstroke include the following:
Hot, dry skin (no sweating)
Rapid heart rate
Protect Older Adults from Heatstroke
Focus on keeping the home comfortable, cool and well ventilated, and making sure that there is plenty of access to drinking water, to prevent heatstroke. Check in regularly on older adults, look for the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, including exhaustion.
If you or your loved one is taking medications for chronic conditions or a new ailment, speak with a doctor about how these medicines may cause the body to react in periods of extreme heat.
Monitor fluid intake and confirm that there is a well ventilated, safe, cool place to find relief throughout the summer and especially during a heat wave
Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors, to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare is conveniently located in the new Roulston’s Wellness Centre on Donly Drive in Simcoe. Call 519-429-2644 or visit our web-site, victoriaeldercare.com for more information about our services.