Elder Risks of Heat Stroke

The elderly, in general, are a population most at risk for heat stroke. In many cases, pre-existing conditions may adversely effect a senior’s ability to deal with heat. Often, seniors with lung disease, heart disease, or kidney disease are compromised.

Certain medications may make seniors vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Some symptoms may include nausea, throbbing headache, confusion, hallucinations, difficulty breathing, and an absence of sweating. Other high-risk groups may include people of any age who don’t drink enough water, have chronic diseases, or who drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

Homecare staff should be aware of cooling strategies for the elderly and/or the environment. Heat stroke is most likely to affect elderly who live in apartments or homes lacking air-conditioning or good airflow. If you or elderly parents live in an urban area, there are increased risks for developing heat stroke during a prolonged heat wave, particularly if there are stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. In what is known as the “heat island effect,” asphalt and concrete store heat during the day and only gradually release it at night, resulting in higher nighttime temperatures.

Caregivers should also closely monitor any seniors who are taking medications such as tranquilizers, stimulants, heart & blood pressure meds, sedatives, diet pills, and antidepressants. Seniors with diabetes may also be at increased risk.

Limit exposure to full sunshine. It may be possible to wet the senior with a sponge or a garden hose. Or move to a cool, shaded, air-conditioned room. Ice packs, or immersion in a tub of cool water, may assist the body’s cooling mechanisms.  Drink water, and avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol.

JD Miller

About JD Miller

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 Email: [email protected] Website: https://homecarepartnersma.com

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