Winter is finally over and warm summer air has returned. We can open windows, enjoy the warmth and shed our extra layers of clothing. If you care for a senior, this is also the time you need to be vigilant about hyperthermia or as it’s commonly called – overheating. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to overheating. In a younger person, the body naturally cools itself by producing perspiration. In the elderly, this mechanism may not work as well because of some medications they may be taking, in particular, antihistamines, antidepressants, motion sickness medications, anti asthma drugs, and some heart medications. These drugs slow the body’s ability to produce sweat which is the natural air conditioner for the body. In addition, these same drugs can cause confusion and memory loss in seniors. If you have an elderly person who already isn’t sweating enough and throw in some confusion, you have a recipe for problems. It may not occur to your loved one to drink extra fluids or take off that sweater. If there are any problems with mobility, your loved one may not move out of a hot sunny location or may not be able to open the window for fresh air. If your senior’s body temperature becomes high, there is a risk for damage to the brain or other vital organs.
Extra measures need to be taken when it gets hot. In regards to overheating, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Make sure there are plenty of fluids available and encourage your loved one to drink them even when they don’t feel thirsty. Stay away from caffeinated beverages and alcohol because they are actually diuretics. If there is no air conditioning, be sure there are fans in use to circulate the air. Keep windows open at night and the shades drawn during the day. Make sure your senior spends the day relaxing — this is not the time for overexertion. If your senior must venture outdoors in the heat, keep the time and distance travelled to a minimum and make sure your senior is not overdressed. This is not the time for layers of clothing. If you want to take an outing, pick an air-conditioned place like a movie theater or mall. Remember…the best way to treat hyperthermia is to prevent it! Share any tips you may have for surviving summer heat below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com