California is open again and looking to move on from the pandemic. Seniors like those who live in Elk Grove Park, an assisted living and memory care community, are vaccinated and making up for the lost time. Whether you’re looking to go for a stroll on the Elk Grove Creek Trail, relax at a winery, or take the grandkids up to Sacramento to check out the zoo, it’s summertime, and it’s time to have some fun.
We can’t wait to get out and be under the sun, but remember, July and August are the hottest times of the year for the Central Valley, and it only takes a few minutes for seniors to have adverse reactions to heat.
Why is heat dangerous for seniors?
As we age, certain things come and go naturally. One of those natural occurrences is our body’s way of controlling its temperature. Our diet or medications can lead to dehydration, and without access to air conditioning, many seniors can find themselves experiencing unnecessary health problems.
What is hyperthermia?
We’re all aware of the cold-weather condition of hypothermia, but the lesser-known heat version is hyperthermia, which can lead to heatstroke:
- A sudden dizziness due to low blood pressure
- Medications such as beta-blockers can increase this risk.
- If this problem arises, elevate the legs in a cool environment and drink water.
- Usually associated with exercise or yard work in excessive heat
- Tightening of the muscles in the arms, legs, and stomach
- If this problem arises, seek a cool environment and drink water or a beverage with electrolytes.
- Heat causes swelling in the ankles and feet.
- If this problem arises, elevate your legs to relieve pressure. Call your doctor if swelling persists.
- A warning sign for heat stroke
- As your body struggles to regulate temperature naturally, excessive sweating occurs.
- Skin begins to feel cool to the touch.
- Nausea, dizziness, and feeling thirsty
- Again, find a cool environment and drink water.
Should I be worried about heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a severe condition, and you should seek medical attention if you:
- Faint or lose consciousness
- Develop body temperature over 104 degrees
- Lose the ability to sweat
Seniors experiencing heat stroke account for over a third of heat-related deaths across the country. Body temperature over 104 degrees can damage the brain and other vital organs.
Why are seniors susceptible to heatstroke?
- Certain medications can interfere with the body’s ability to sweat and regulate temperature.
- Skin changes that are natural with aging can interfere with sweat glands.
- Heart and blood vessel problems can exacerbate the effects of heat.
- Being overweight or underweight can present further challenges.
How can seniors lower their risk of overheating?
We already lost a year to the pandemic; don’t feel like you have to hide in your home even when it’s hot. Of course, avoid direct exposure to the sun on warmer days and drink plenty of water to reduce the risk of dehydration. Enjoy the world (if you’re vaccinated) and try some of these cooler activities if you do not have access to air conditioning:
- Visit your local library.
- Exercise indoors like walking at the mall or swimming in a rec center pool.
- Visit a movie theater.
- Visit a cooling center in Elk Grove or Sacramento.
If you do need to go outside during high-temperature times, remember:
- Apply plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
- Wear light layers of clothes.
- Wear a hat or carry an umbrella with you.
- Apply a cooling towel behind the neck.
- Drink plenty of water.
How are seniors in long-term care facilities experiencing the heat?
Most importantly, our studio and one-bedroom apartments feature individually controlled A/C and window coverings to block the rays.
Are Elk Grove Park residents staying active in the heat?
Our community consists of groups of 15 apartments in five cottages. Three are for assisted living, and two are for memory care. Each of these cottages features common areas for everyone to hang out in, enjoy meals and participate in activities:
- Live music
- Garden club
- Cooking club
- Flower pressing