Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses in Seniors

Heat of the SummerThe summer months may be coming to an end, but soaring high temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses, especially in seniors. As we age, our bodies do not respond to hot temperatures as well as they did in the past. This can lead to some dangerous scenarios for seniors that caregivers should watch out for. Read on to learn about some of the most common heat-related illnesses affecting seniors: heatstroke, heat syncope, heat edema, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps.

Of all the heat-related illnesses, heatstroke is the most serious. This condition occurs when the body cannot control its temperature. In this scenario, the body’s temperature rapidly increases, and the body cannot sweat to lower body temperature and cool itself down.

Symptoms of Heatstroke Include:

  • loss of consciousness (coma)
  • confusion, slurred speech, and altered mental status
  • seizures
  • profuse sweating or hot, dry skin
  • very high body temperature

Caregivers should seek emergency treatment right away if they recognize any of these symptoms with their family member or client because untreated heatstroke can lead to permanent disability or death.

Heat Syncope
Heat syncope is when someone faints or becomes dizzy, usually after standing for a while or suddenly standing after sitting or lying down. Home health aides and caregivers should have those who experience heat syncope sit or lie down in a cool place and slowly drink water, a sports drink, or clear juice.

Heat Edema
Heat edema is when the feet or hands become swollen after sitting or standing for a long time in a hot environment. Those with other conditions that affect their circulation are at a higher risk of heat edema. Similar to heat syncope, caregivers should have those with heat edema sit or lie down.

Heat Cramps
Heat cramps most often affect those who sweat a lot. By sweating, the body’s salt and moisture levels are depleted, which can cause painful cramps. In most cases, CNAs, Home Health Aides, and family Caregivers can help relieve heat cramps by providing water and a snack and/or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes. However, caregivers should seek medical help for those with heart problems or those on a low sodium diet with cramps that last for more than an hour.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion happens after the body has lost an excessive amount of salt and water, typically through sweating. It is extremely important for caregivers, CNAs, and Home Health Aides to call 911 immediately for medical attention if they recognize any of the following heat-related symptoms.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion Include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • irritability
  • weakness
  • heavy sweating
  • thirst
  • decreased urine output
  • elevated body temperature

The summer months are a time of great fun with longer days and seemingly endless activities to pursue. However, it is important to remember that your senior loved ones and clients cannot tolerate the heat as well as younger individuals can and are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

At Allcare Home Health our caregivers receive ongoing in-service training and recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness to ensure the temperature never ruins your loved one’s fun. If you would like more information about our in-home healthcare services, call (919) 301-0236 or fill out our online contact form. Our customer service representatives are standing by ready to schedule your free consultation.