Aging affects many things, including the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which makes temperature extremes challenging and even deadly for seniors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain, “People aged 65 years and older are more prone to heat-related problems. Older adults don’t adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature. They are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change normal body responses to heat.”
The CDC urges seniors to stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible on hot days to avoid heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Other heat-induced problems include headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
“Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Despite this fact, more than 600 people in the U.S. are killed by extreme heat every year,” the CDC says.
The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) adds, “Heat cramps are the first stage of a heat emergency. The signs are muscle pain and tightness. The signs of heat exhaustion can include irritability, pale skin, and fainting. In heatstroke, the body temperature can rise above 105-degrees F, people feel confused and may have seizures, and lose consciousness. The victim’s skin may feel very dry from dehydration. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency; call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.”
AARP urges, “If you know someone who’s elderly, and your area is experiencing high temperatures, make sure to check on that person regularly, and offer to help him or her escape the heat, especially during the hottest part of the day, usually between 2-5 p.m.
“Most people recover from any stage of heat emergency in a few days. However, 20 percent of heatstroke survivors will have residual brain damage, and in some patients, kidney problems will persist.”