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Keep cool this summer
By Simone Gaunt and Laura Feakes
Along with blue skies and sun-filled summer days with lots of heat and humidity, comes the danger of heat stress and heat-related illnesses. Seniors do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature and may not even be aware that they are experiencing a negative reaction to the excessive heat and humidity. They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that upsets normal body responses to heat and are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the bodyís ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration. Seniors should be especially careful to watch for early warning signs that signal that the body is struggling with the heat. Signs of heat exhaustion are fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, heavy sweating, paleness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. To help protect yourself from heat-related stress and reduce your risk of heat exhaustion, here are a few, simple guidelines to follow:
1. To acclimate your body to increasing heat gradually spend more time outdoors.
2. Drink nonalcoholic fluids at regular intervals, whether you feel thirsty or not. When you are in the heat, drinking a half-cup to a cup of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes will help keep you properly hydrated.
3. Avoid being outdoors during the hottest part of the day. If you are physically active, schedule your activities in the early morning hours or after sunset. If you donít have air-conditioning, or canít get to a place that is air-conditioned, stay on the lowest floor and keep the shades drawn and a fan running.
4. If you must be outside, wear lightweight, light colored clothing. Eat light; frequent small meals are better than a single heavy one.
To request a brochure on this topic, call Elder Services at 499-0524 or 1-800-544-5242 and ask to speak to an I&R Specialist.
Simone Gaunt and Laura Feakes are Elder Services I & R Specialists