With the arrival of summer and warmer temperatures, many seniors are ready to enjoy all that the pleasant weather provides when it comes to outdoor fun. From hiking and swimming to gardening and traveling, warmer months offer many opportunities to enjoy natural settings of all types in the area around Grand Junction, Colorado. That's true whether you're exploring the exterior grounds of the Grand Villa assisted living community or venturing further into the surrounding neighborhood.
However, hotter weather also means increased danger for seniors in the form of possible heat stroke. This health-related issue can be life-threatening and sneak up on you before you even realize you're in trouble. Consider some facts about heat stroke to stay informed and ahead of those issues.
Heat exhaustion involves the body sending warning signals that it's having trouble cooling down. At this point, dizziness may set in and you may be sweating more than usual. Sometimes, your pulse may be racing faster than usual. Often, you can address heat exhaustion by hydrating and resting in a cool place to feel better. In more severe cases, medical intervention could be necessary.
Heat stroke, by comparison, is a more serious medical issue. At this point, you may lose consciousness or your body temperature may reach critical levels. You could be significantly dehydrated. In many cases, heat stroke requires medical attention and might not be treatable at home.
Among the reasons that signs of a heat stroke can be so confusing is that by the time you get to this point, your body is holding on to every bit of fluid and is no longer cooling efficiently. This means that chances are you may not be sweating anymore.
This is a dangerous sign and one that may cause people to think they are feeling better when the opposite is true. Sweating is your body's way of cooling itself in the way it was designed; if you are not sweating and feeling bad, you may be on the cusp of a heat stroke.
Taking certain prescription medications is one of the risk factors for heat stroke because medications can interfere with the body's normal processes, including those that cool it off. A lack of proper ventilation or access to air conditioning in areas of the country that get especially hot are also risk factors for heat-related illnesses.
Chronic health conditions may also contribute to the likelihood of suffering a heat stroke, especially heart-related issues. Annually, a large portion of those that suffer from heat-related illness are age 50 and up, making age a potential risk factor for heat stroke as well.
There are numerous ways you can reduce your risk for suffering a heat-related illness, including heat stroke. They include:
• Paying attention to weather reports. Just like those for adverse weather, heat advisories can provide important information for those planning to venture outdoors — including how high the temperatures in a particular locale might climb that day. This can help you make plans to avoid being outside during peak heat times or otherwise minimize your exposure to the heat.
• Hydrating. One of the biggest mistakes people can make during the warm summer months is failing to hydrate. Hydration promotes general wellness at any time of the year for most people but is especially important during warmer months when you may be sweating.
• Staying in a cool place when possible. If your home doesn't have air conditioning, consider spending time in other places during the hottest parts of the day. For instance, check out your local library for senior-related events or visit local senior centers or church events. Even spending time shopping, enjoying a movie or sipping a beverage in a local cafe during the hottest hour or two of the day can help. Residents of Grand Villa assisted living community have climate controlled apartments and plenty of interior common areas to explore on hot days!
• Running errands early in the day. Plan your outdoor activities early in the day before temperatures rise. Whatever doesn't get done before noon may need to wait until the next day if you want to stay as cool as possible.
It is always important to seek help immediately if you or someone you know appears to be having a heat stroke. As is the case with any adverse health-related issue, it's better to be safe and get it checked out versus trying to manage it on your own to worse results.
If you're worried about the heat this summer, you can also reach out to your medical provider to ask about your personal risks for heat stroke and what you can do specifically to reduce them.