Seniors Should Protect Themselves From Summer Heat

August 8, 2005-- Posted at 3:33 PM CDT

(HealthDay News) -- Because of the way the human body ages, seniors have much more trouble dealing with summer heat than younger people do.

Older adults can't cool down as well, may not perceive heat as well, and are less likely to feel thirsty -- all very dangerous problems when the sun is beating down.

The American Geriatrics Society has a set of hot-weather tips to help seniors stay safe, including:

  • Pay close attention to the thermometer, so you know how hot it really is.
  • Turn on the air conditioner or go somewhere that's air-conditioned, such as a shopping mall, senior center or movie theater.
  • Avoid walking long distances, lifting heavy objects or other strenuous activities.
  • Drink lots of water and other clear drinks that don't contain alcohol or caffeine. If your urine is a light yellow color, you're drinking enough water. If it's darker yellow, you need to drink more.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat.

Dehydration is a potentially deadly loss of water in the body. Warning signs include weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, and passing out.

If you think you're struggling with dehydration, call your doctor or 911. Meanwhile, drink plenty of water and, if possible, "sports drinks" such as Gatorade, which contain salts called electrolytes that your body loses when dehydrated, according the society.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about heat-related illnesses (www.nlm.nih.gov ).

 -- Dennis Thompson

SOURCES: American Geriatrics Society, news release, July 2005

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