Taking care of seniors in hot weather
GLENN ELLIS | 6/22/2018, 5:26 p.m.
• Heat cramps: muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs after exercise. [Note that these may be caused by lack of salt but do not give salt or salt tablets without consulting a physician.]
• Heat exhaustion: this is warning that the body is getting too hot. Watch for thirst, giddiness, weakness, lack of coordination, nausea and profuse sweating, as well as cold, clammy skin. Body temperature may be normal – 98.6 degrees. Pulse is normal or raised slightly. Pupils may contract. Urination decreases and the person may vomit.
• Heat stroke: this is life threatening. Immediate medical attention is required. Death can occur quickly when heat stroke occurs. Body temperature rises above 100 degrees ºF – some sources say 104 degrees ºF, and the person may become confused, combative, behave bizarrely, feel faint, stagger. Pulse is rapid. Skin is dry, flushed and may feel hot. There is a lack of sweating. Breathing may be fast and shallow. Pupils may widen or dilate. Delirium, seizures or convulsions, and coma are possible.
Caregivers should stay on the alert for signs of confusion or altered mental states in seniors who are out in hot weather, as it could be a sign of heat stroke. If a person should collapse or pass out, it’s a medical emergency, and 911 should be called immediately.
During hot weather, think about making daily visits to older relatives and neighbors. Remind them to drink lots of water or juice, as long as their doctor hasn’t recommended otherwise because of a pre-existing condition. If there is a heat wave, offer to help them go someplace cool, such as air-conditioned malls, libraries or senior centers.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.
This column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider if. they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.