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HEALTHY LIVING: The cool rules for seniors to follow during summer

by BY SILOAM SPRINGS REGIONAL HOSPITAL | June 10, 2020 at 1:42 p.m.

For many older adults living in homes without air-conditioning or proper ventilation, the dog days of summer can prove not only to be insufferable but downright life threatening. Staying cool during extreme temperatures means learning to beat the heat.

Summertime – and the living can be anything but easy for many seniors struggling to stay cool when temperatures and humidity levels start to climb. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 percent of all heat-related deaths in the United States occur in people older than 65. Even more startling is the fact that each year scorching summer temperatures claim more lives in the U.S. than all natural disasters combined, including floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes.

Many seniors with serious health complications or chronic medical conditions related to heart, circulation or pulmonary issues, or who take prescription medications on a daily basis could be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Research shows that cardiovascular problems are a contributing factor in the majority of heat-related deaths among older adults.

As seniors’ body temperatures begin to rise because of intense heat or sudden changes in temperature, their bodies can lose ability to cool down because of dehydration or failure to perspire. A heatstroke occurs when a person’s body temperature exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit – which can happen in less than 15 minutes and can result in death or permanent disability if not treated immediately. Heatstroke or exhaustion in seniors can cause seizures and should be treated as a medical emergency.

In a medical emergency, every second counts. Never delay care – count on us to be there for you when you need it. The emergency room at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital and the Northwest Health Emergency Department Fayetteville are here for you and your family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about our services, visit today.

Signs of a heat stroke include:

• Confusion

• Dark urine

• Disorientation

• Dry, flushed skin

• Dizziness

• Fainting

• High temperature

• Rapid pulse

• Vomiting

Playing it cool

While air conditioning may seem like an obvious solution to staying cool in the summer, many seniors living alone or on a fixed income can’t afford the added expense of running AC units. Family members, neighbors or caretakers should ensure seniors stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids and using house fans. Other helpful precautions include:

• Avoiding using lights, stoves or other appliances during the heat of the day by preparing hot meals at night

• Blocking out the sun with curtains or shades to reduce indoor temperatures

• Taking a cool shower during the afternoon

• Wearing lightweight clothing and sunscreen.


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