Heat Wave: Elderly at increased risk


As temperatures rise here in the Valley, so do health concerns. The elderly are at an increased risk of danger in these high temperatures. According to the CDC, elderly citizens are at an increased risk of heat stress because:

  • Older adults aren’t able to adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.

All of these factors can cause older adults to face serious health risks during times of increased temperatures. We met up with Ann Anderson, Executive Director of CASA of Madison County, a care service for elderly and home-bound citizens in the area. She gave us some tips on how older adults can stay safe during this heat wave and how the community can help protect them. 

Anderson says it’s important to remember some key practices during hot weather. She reminds older adults to “stay indoors, dress appropriately. If you go outside, make sure to put sunscreen on and cover your head. Don’t go out during the heat of the day.”

Anderson says that oftentimes older adults want to continue their normal routines, but they need to remember not to overexert themselves. She jokingly adds, “the newspaper or the stairs that need to be swept… they’ll be there later! But, we don’t want them to be injured or hurt. If they get really overheated and they fall, they can do more damage.”

Anderson says the best thing the community can do to ensure the safety of elderly citizens, is to check in on them! If you have an older adult in your family or circle of friends who lives alone, call or drop by just to check in. Dehydration and exhaustion could really be a dangerous situation for anyone, especially if it is not addressed early on. 

CASA provided this list of Hot Weather Safety Tips for Seniors:

  • Wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors. 
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses 
  • Wear a sunhat
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Dress for the weather– wear breathable, loose- fitting garments
  • Keep your home comfortable
  • On the hottest days, escape the heat– if your home isn’t air-conditioned, go to the mall, movies, or a designated cooling shelter. 

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