Meteorologists report that summers in New England will bring an increasing number of days above 90 degrees. So, while it’s great to get outside, everyone needs to take precautions. Medical experts state that as we age, our bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. That’s why you need to be aware of how higher temperatures can affect you. Heat exhaustion can be a warning that your body cannot keep itself cool.
Doctors report that chronic medical conditions and some prescription medications influence the body’s ability to control its temperature. People should pay attention if they run a body temperature above 103 degrees; have red, hot, dry skin without sweating; a strong rapid pulse; or experience dizziness, confusion, or feel faint. These could be signs of heat stroke, according to Ready.gov. If this happens, call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool them down however you can until medical help arrives, but do not give them anything to drink.
Regardless of age, health professionals stress we should use a commonsense approach to dealing with heat:
• Avoid strenuous exercise and activities
• Wear a hat with a brim when outside and choose light-weight clothing (cotton is often cooler than synthetics)
• Don’t wait to drink until you’re thirsty: stay hydrated by drinking fluids throughout the day
• Take cool showers or sponge baths or apply a wet cloth to your skin
Health experts recommend keeping your home as cool as possible by air-conditioners if you have them. Fans are not recommended as primary cooling devices since they create air flow but do not reduce body temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses. The CDC recommends that if people with dementia are using a portable fan, their caregivers should make sure no objects can be inserted between the blades. Portable fans should be placed close to electrical outlets to avoid the tripping hazard posed by extension cords.
During the hottest parts of the day, pull shades or close curtains to keep the sun out. If your home becomes very uncomfortable, find a cooler environment. Spend time at your local library, sit on a bench at the mall, or go to the movies. If you have an air-conditioned car, take a drive. Many towns keep their senior or community centers open later to accommodate residents who need relief from severe heat. In addition, you can always call our agency if you need assistance.
Summer offers many opportunities to enjoy the best of life in New England. Doing that safely, especially in the heat, is vitally important.