Heat, Sun and Water — Advice for Adults Over 65
As we age, our bodies’ ability to react to heat and dehydration change. For example, an older adult’s sense of thirst is not as acute as compared to a younger person. Let’s learn more about potential dehydration and heat stroke situations and what to look out for.
Heat Tolerance Changes With Age
When our bodies are exposed to heat, biologic mechanisms help maintain a steady body temperature. When you sweat, for instance, the moisture evaporating from your skin surface takes heat away from your body.
For older adults, these processes work differently and may expose a person to dehydration risk. With age, the sweat reflex is not as strong, so body heat may accumulate faster. Additionally, chronic illness and medications can often blunt the body’s response to heat even more.
When body temperature rises above normal, signs of heat exhaustion may appear, such as heavy sweating, paleness, dizziness, nausea, or even fainting.
Avoiding Heat Related Illness
To avoid heat exhaustion – or more severe heat stroke – it’s helpful to have ready access to a climate controlled environment or fans, especially during the summer months. And, of course, extended periods outside in hot, sunny weather should be avoided.
When you are outside, wear a wide brimmed hat and seek the shelter of shade whenever possible. Keep fluids on hand, and take small sips frequently.
Dehydration In Older Adults
Besides the blunted thirst response, illness and medication can also lead to dehydration. Any type of infection can be complicated by dehydration, as without sufficient fluids the body will need to work harder to fight the illness. An older body has less muscle mass, and therefore has reduced water reserves to fight off heat or stress.
Some medications, such that those taken to prevent the risk of heart disease or high blood pressure, often promotes loss of water. If close tabs aren’t kept on water intake, dehydration may result.
Warning Signs Of Dehydration
Early dehydration can present as a dry mouth, thick saliva, headache, muscle cramps, and weakness. If left unattended, dehydration can lead to serious blood pressure decline, convulsions, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, and loss of consciousness. “At Plush Mills “we know what to look out for when it comes to dehydration” says Christina O’Reilly, Director of Health and Wellness.
On the other hand, older adults may also be at risk of accumulating too much fluid, especially those with heart, liver, or kidney diseases. All of these factors must be taken into account to maintain a healthy fluid balance.
Wellness is a top priority for you. At Plush Mills, it’s a top priority for us as well. We customize support services, providing just the right amount of care when it’s needed. Contact Us or call Donna Kokol at (610) 690-1630 to set up a free tour.