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Extreme Heat Causes Major Health Problems for Older Adults
Date:7/2/2009

NEW YORK, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As we prepare for hotter, humid weeks ahead and temperatures reach well over 100 degrees in some parts of the country, older adults are at higher risk of health problems if they don't take the proper precautions to protect themselves from the sweltering heat. About 200 Americans die of health problems caused by high heat and humidity every year, most of them are 50 or older. Due to some of the physical changes that happen as we age, older adults can't cool down as easily as others.

The AGS' Foundation for Health and Aging (FHA) suggests these steps for seniors to help stay safe in the summer months:

  • Use air conditioning in the home or go where it's air-conditioned -- a shopping mall, grocery store, senior center, movie theatre, museum or library, for example. (Fans are not effective enough to adequately cool down the body during intense heat waves.)
  • Drink a lot of water and other clear beverages that don't contain alcohol or caffeine. A good way to measure if enough fluids are being ingested is to check urine color. If urine is a light yellow color, enough water is being taken into the body. If it's darker yellow, the body needs more water.
  • Take cool showers, baths, or sponge baths.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and hats.

Avoid:

  • Extended periods of sun exposure.
  • Walking long distances, lifting heavy objects, or other strenuous activities.

Below are the most common health problems caused by heat:

  • Dehydration: Weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion and passing out.
  • Heat stroke: A body temperature of or above 103 degrees; red, hot and dry skin; a fast pulse; headach
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SOURCE American Geriatrics Society
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