Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke
It is summer. It is hot, and humid. We are experiencing temperatures well above historical averages. And the heat has an effect on our bodies. We are perspiring more, and perhaps feeling lethargic. Many seniors may have heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion typically occurs after excessive sweating. It’s the body’s response to an extreme loss of salt and water.
Heat exhaustion is milder than heat stroke, but it can progress to a heat stroke if left untreated.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion in the elderly:
— Heavy sweating
— Pale, cold, and clammy skin
— Muscle cramps
— Fast, weakened pulse
— Nausea or vomiting
What to do in case of heat exhaustion or heat stroke? If you notice your elderly parents exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, follow these life-saving tips to deescalate a dangerous, heat-related situation:
— Cool them off. Take them to a cool area and place cold compresses on their neck, face, and head.
— Remove clothing. Remove socks, shoes, or anything that could make them feel hotter.
— Provide cool water. Encourage them to take sips at regular intervals.
— Seek help if needed. Call for medical assistance if symptoms worsen or don’t subside.
If you suspect a senior is experiencing heat stroke, follow these three steps:
— Seek emergency help. Call 911 or take them to a hospital. A delay in treatment can be fatal or cause irreparable damage.
— Cool them off. While you’re waiting for help to arrive, take them to a cool area. If possible, immerse them in cool water to lower their temperature more rapidly.
— Avoid giving too much liquid or aspirin. The majority of heat stroke sufferers are in an altered state of consciousness, which can make it hard to drink or swallow safely. If they’re able to drink, help them drink a little at a time. Do your best to keep them cool and conscious until help arrives.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164