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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, August 5, 2019

Important Tips to Help Mom and Dad Avoid the Dangers of Summer Heat

The summer months offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy being outside with friends and family. The elevated temperatures, however, can present dangerous risks for seniors that do not necessarily apply to younger people. These heat-related health risks are collectively known as hyperthermia, as opposed to hypothermia, the latter which occurs when the body temperature becomes too low.

Hyperthermia can include heat stroke, heat edema (or swelling), heat syncope (sudden dizziness), heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Seniors can be more vulnerable to these serious, and potentially life-threatening, concerns due to a generally diminished capacity to conserve water, and an overall reduction in the body’s internal heat-regulating mechanisms. 

Other factors may also apply, and identifying them is critical. For instance, seniors have a higher propensity to take prescription medications which may lead to heat-sensitive side effects. Let us share several other contributing factors that research tells us to be aware of:


  • Dehydration

  • Poor blood circulation

  • Inefficient sweat glands

  • Heart, lung, and kidney diseases

  • High blood pressure 

  • Salt-restricted diets

  • Being overweight or underweight  

  • Drinking alcoholic beverages

The list is by no means comprehensive but, with these types of factors in mind, it may be easier to help your senior loved ones avoid unnecessary exposure. 

In addition to the above, make sure they try to stay indoors during particularly hot and humid days. Plan appointments and outside excursions for early mornings or late afternoons. Seniors should drink plenty of water, even when the do not feel thirsty. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothes are important when venturing outside. UV protective sunglasses, sunscreen and hats can also help prevent sun damage and overheating. 

If you suspect a senior loved one is suffering from a heat-related emergency consider these next steps:

  • Get them out of the sun and into a shady, air-conditioned place immediately, and suggest that they lie down.

  • If they can swallow safely, offer water and fruit juices.

  • Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists and neck, as these are areas where blood passes close to the surface of the skin. A cold cloth can speed up cooling. 

  • Encourage them to shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water.

  • If necessary, do not wait to call 911.

We know how important it is to keep senior loved ones safe during the summer and throughout the year. Do not wait to ask contact our firm for elder care tips like this to help you care for your aging parents this summer and beyond! 

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