Summer Heat Can be a Challenge for Senior Citizens

Jul 25, 2014

Summer can be hard on older adults.

SIU School of Medicine health officials says senior citizens need to take special precautions when it's hot and humid.  Dr. Nichole Mirocha is an assistant professor of family and community medicine.  She says temperature regulation is determined by the brain and as you get older, you may be on a medication or may have a disorder that prevents that normal regulation from occurring.   Mirocha says when that happens the brain tells the blood vessels to open up and express heat and release it from your body and that doesn't always occur as well as it did when a person was younger or were not on medications.

Doctor Mirocha says many seniors can have heart conditions or chronic kidney diseases and take medications that can affect their fluid status and by adding in the mix of extreme heat which can set up a person for severe dehydration.  She says it's very important if an older adult has a chronic medical conditions that they avoid the extreme heat and humidity and  stay in a cool area.

To stay cool, seniors should stay in the shade and use fans and air conditioning. If their home is not air–conditioned, they should go to a mall, cooling center or a friend or family member's home that has air conditioning.  She reminds family and friends to check on seniors several times a day during a heat wave.