When the temperatures soar, people are at risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses. A heat-related illness occurs when a person is exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time or when they are exposed to intense heat. When that happens, the body works harder to maintain a normal body temperature, which makes blood move toward the surface of the skin for cooling. As a result, the brain and other organs receive less blood, and so do the muscles.
Risk Factors for Heat-Related Illness
Older adults are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses because of some of the changes that take place in the body with age. The bodies of older adults don’t respond to heat as quickly as those of younger people. In addition to age related changes, other things that can increase a senior’s risk of becoming ill from the heat are:
- Poor circulation.
- Chronic conditions, like heart, lung, or kidney disease.
- Taking multiple medications or taking medications that affect the body’s ability to cool itself.
- Being either overweight or underweight.
- Drinking alcohol.
Types of Heat-Related Illness
There are several kinds of heat related illnesses. All of them are caused by the body becoming too hot, but they vary a bit in symptoms and possible complications. Some kinds of heat related illnesses are:
- Heat Exhaustion: This illness happens when a person sweats a lot, causing them to lose water and salt. The lack of fluids causes problems with circulation and brain function. People on low-salt diets may be especially susceptible to heat exhaustion.
- Heat Cramps: Heat cramps usually happen when a person is exercising in the heat. Like heat exhaustion, it happens because of fluid loss.
- Heat Stroke: This is the most dangerous kind of heat related illness. It happens when the body cannot cool itself because of prolonged time spent in the heat. The part of the brain that controls body temperature doesn’t work correctly, so the body cannot sweat to cool itself.
- Heat Rash: Heat rash causes blisters on the body, especially on the neck, groin, chest, or the crease of the elbow.
Senior Care Can Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses
A senior care provider can be essential in preventing illnesses caused by high temperatures. On days that are especially hot, the CDC recommends that people check on one another. A senior care provider can be the person who checks on your aging relative to ensure they aren’t too hot. If the older adult’s home is too hot, a senior care provider can turn on the air conditioning or fans. But, if that isn’t enough to cool the house, a senior care provider can drive the older adult somewhere that is air conditioned, such as the library, the mall, or a friend’s house.
If you are considering senior care in Morton Grove, IL for an aging loved one, please call the caring staff at A-Abiding Care today. Serving North and Northwest Chicago and the surrounding area for over 30 years. Call 847-698-1400.