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Tips for seniors to beat the excessive heat

August 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Here are some tips seniors can take to keep safe in the extreme summer heat.The sweltering temperatures pose a health risk to senior citizens. Here are some tips seniors can take to keep safe in the extreme heat.

One of the tips is to find air conditioner spots like a library if you don't have air conditioning at home.

The current heat wave is potentially dangerous, especially for senior citizens who may not always heed high-heat warnings. A recent study found that most seniors over 65 who were questioned acknowledged hearing about heat warnings issued in their area, but less than half did anything about it. Part of the reason is most of those surveyed thought that those warnings were meant for older Americans a group that they didn't think they belonged to.

Opal Jimenez tries to stay cool as the temperatures outside her Brea home soar.

"I drink quite a bit of water. It's something that I enjoy, is a good drink of water," said Jimenez.

The 81-year-old gets help from her caregiver. She works for an in-home senior care provider called Senior Helpers. The company has started the Heat Watch Initiative Guidelines to help keep older people safe during heat waves.

"Seniors are at very high risk due to age," said Heather Yost, vice president, Senior Helpers. "A lot of times medical conditions and also medication that they're taking. What happens is that there not able to cool down their body temperature as you and I can."

The company encourages people to follow five tips, including regularly checking on senior loved ones during heat waves.

Turning on the air conditioner.

"It helps keep the house cooler and nice," said Jimenez.

Many seniors hesitate using the air conditioner to save money on power bills.

"If they don't have air, that the shades are drawn, that they have a fan, some ventilation going on in their home," said Yost.

Limit drinking coffee. It's a diuretic that removes water from the body. Choose drinks without caffeine.

And when it comes to medication, "It slows down regulations of body temperatures so we recommend that you take heart medications and medications in the morning or evening during the cool times of the day," said Yost. "Definitely check with doctor before changing your schedule and medications."

Keeping a cool, damp washcloth nearby can also help by placing it on pulse points.

"The wrist, armpits, and back of neck," said Yost.

If somebody starts showing symptoms of heat exhaustion such as nausea, dizziness, or vomiting, or even worse, heat stroke call 911.


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