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Are you Ensuring a Good Health for Elderly People?

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Summer illness for seniors

Are you Ensuring a Good Health for Elderly People?

Dr Mukesh Mehra
Senior Consultant
Internal Medicine


With the summer heat taking a toll on seniors’ health, it is time to review some vital tips for them. Elderly people are at a greater risk of getting dehydrated because during summers our bodies work harder than normal (beyond the limits). This is the root cause of all heat related diseases and can be dangerous as well as deadly for them. Moreover, seniors are able to adjust to sudden changes in temperature as compared to young people.

Common Signs of Dehydration in Elderly

  • thirst
  • confusion
  • irritability and
  • poor skin elasticity
  • chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, respiratory and neurological diseases.

Heat related illnesses

Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat-related illness- It can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating, Paleness, Muscle Cramps, Tiredness, Weakness
  • Dizziness, Headache, Nausea or vomiting, Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist, Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

Heat stroke is a serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache,Dizziness, Nausea

Below are some senior safety tips for you to help them beat the Heat:

  • Try to plan activities that require going outside during non-peak hours when it is a little cooler.
  • Make them exercise indoors like at a gym, walking on a treadmill or mall walking. Moreover, swimming is also a good option.
  • Give plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic, caffeine-free) as these ingredients have a diuretic effect.  Keeping hydrated on a regular basis is the most important preventative measure, and they should be encouraged to drink fluids even when not thirsty as thirst may not trigger until already dehydrated. 
  • Ensure that elderly consume foods and drinks that are rich in sodium and potassium for restoring electrolyte balance like broths or soups (contain sodium); fruit juice, soft fruits, vegetables (contain potassium); sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
  • Stay indoors in cooled spaces as much as possible. If electricity goes out or your loved one do not have air conditioner facility, consider alternative arrangements when heat is at peak.
  • Be aware of signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Dress in loose-fitting and light-weight clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Never leave a person or an animal alone in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Be aware of other summer dangers:  Insect bites and sun exposure are two other summer dangers.  Be vigilant about sunscreen and protect against insect bites.  If you or someone you know has a bite that seems abnormal or you notice any unusual symptoms, seek medical attention.