Protecting older adults from extreme heat

Older adults and their caregivers need to be particularly vigilant when the summer heat strikes Las Vegas. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses because their bodies can’t regulate temperature as well. Seniors are also more likely to take medications and have medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to heat stresses . Here at Southern Hills Hospital, we’re deeply concerned about the health of our elderly neighbors in Las Vegas. Please don’t hesitate to seek emergency care if you’re concerned about heat-related illnesses.

Checking on the elderly during the summer
Family members, friends and caretakers of elderly individuals should check on them every day when the weather is hot. During very hot weather, seniors should be checked on at least twice daily.

During each check-in, the friend or caregiver should consider whether the temperature in the home is moderate and whether the individual is drinking enough water. They should also watch out for the potential signs of heat-related illnesses, such as the following.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • High temperature
  • Rapid pulse

The most severe type of heat-related illness is heatstroke . It always requires emergency care, as it can be life-threatening. Call 911 if you notice these possible signs of heatstroke:

  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Delirium
  • Blurry vision
  • Temperature over 105 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Lack of sweating
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing

Keeping the home cool
Air conditioners are the most effective way to keep a senior’s home cool and comfortable. Fans do not cool down a room, and will not help prevent heat-related illnesses.

If your senior loved one’s home lacks air conditioning, offer to install a window unit for him or her. You can also bring your loved one to an air conditioned building, such as a:

  • Library
  • Shopping center
  • Movie theater
  • Public cooling center
  • Senior center

Staying hydrated
Seniors need to drink more fluids during hot weather, but it’s often hard for them to tell when they’re thirsty. Encourage your senior loved one to stay hydrated by:

  • Offering water-rich fruits (pears, watermelon or cantaloupe)
  • Offering frozen grapes as a snack
  • Squeezing lemon or lime into a glass of ice water
  • Making homemade popsicles

Please call 911 right away if you or a loved one could be suffering from life-threatening heatstroke. The emergency care team at Southern Hills Hospital brings together in-depth expertise, high-tech medical equipment and a compassionate, patient-centered approach. Non-emergent questions about our hospital services in Las Vegas may be directed to a registered nurse at (702) 916-5023.

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