Seniors Vulnerable to Summer's Heat

Experts offer tips on staying safe and cool

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WEDNESDAY, July 27, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- The heat waves that have dogged the United States this summer are tough on everyone, but especially the elderly, experts say.

But there are ways seniors can beat the summer heat and preserve their health, according to the July issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

Besides the obvious -- staying in air conditioned areas and out of the sun, and wearing loose, light clothes -- other tips include:

  • Reviewing medications (especially painkillers and laxatives) to make sure they don't reduces awareness of the heat or cause fluid loss.
  • Staying hydrated by regularly drinking fluids, even if thirst isn't always present.
  • Paying attention for signs of heat exhaustion. These include muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, impaired concentration, confusion, lightheadedness, nausea, labored breathing, chest discomfort, or rapid or erratic pulse.
  • Checking in on elderly neighbors to see how they're coping. Social isolation is a major risk factor for heat-related death and illness.

More information

The National Institutes of Health have more about heat emergencies.

SOURCES: Harvard Medical School, news release, July 20, 2005

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