Beat the heat

As the heat and humidity beings again this summer, the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio Inc. cautions the community that while such conditions can be uncomfortable for all of us, it can turn into a medical emergency for older adults and individuals with disabilities. At this point, the Area Office will not be opening cooling centers, but they have some tips and cautions to offer.

First and foremost, drink plenty of water. With age, the sensation of thirst can be impaired and decrease the body's reserve of water. Certain medications can also interfere with the body's cooling system. Try sipping water throughout the day instead of drinking only when thirsty.

Second, stay out of the sun. Older adults are more susceptible to sunburns than the general population and certain medications can cause the skin to burn more quickly.

Here's a few helpful tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and juices before you start to feel thirsty
  • Take cool baths or showers
  • When you are at home, stay in the coolest room, with fans and air conditioning
  • Get relief at malls, movie theatres, libraries or senior centers if your home is too warm
  • Eat cool foods, such as fruits, vegetables and salads
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcoholic beverages
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed, parked vehicle

If you experience headache, nausea, weakness, have profuse sweating, clammy skin or have difficulty breathing, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion. If so, lie down in a cool room and drink plenty of cool liquids. If someone can offer you a sponge bath with cool (not cold) water, it is an excellent idea.

A far more serious condition is heat stroke. The skin becomes hot and red, the pulse becomes rapid, sweating ceases and the body temperature soars to 105 or higher. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention.

Also, for the general population, please remember to watch out for neighbors who live alone or may be experiencing problems coping with the heat. Call to check on their well-being. Stay alert and well-informed and you can enjoy the summer safely.