Keeping cool: How to prevent heat-related illnesses in the elderly

Local News

(KCAU) — Despite all heat-related illnesses being preventable, more than 600 Americans die from them each year. Older people have a higher risk of suffering from the heat, but there are things that can be done to minimize the hot sun’s effects.

“I don’t think they realize that there’s places to go that they can keep cool and stuff and everything, like here you know, you can walk miles and miles and miles inside,” said Lonnie Gustafson.

Gustafson has been a member at the Siouxland Center for Active Generations for about three years now.
He said there’s no better time to stop in than the summer so he and others can beat the heat, not to mention the wide variety of fun activities the center has to offer.

“It’s air conditioned, play cards, you know, and pea knuckle or 500, whatever it is, there’s 65 different things they can do here at the center,” Gustafson said.

“There’s some physiological changes that happen to our body as we get older that make older Americans more prone to heat stroke, often times they’re on medications that change how our bodies react to heat,” said Amanda Monroe-Rubendall, the Trauma Prevention Coordinator at UnityPoint Health.

Another key to fending off heat-related illnesses is staying hydrated, even though many seniors don’t feel the effects as much as younger people or might have a condition that calls for less water intake.

“if you’re somebody who has a heart condition and are supposed to limit how much water you drink or if you’re on water pills, call your primary care provider and ask them how much water it’s safe for you to drink to stay hydrated,” Rubendall said.

Members were treated to an ice cream social on Wednesday, perfect for staying cool, as well as live entertainment during the “jam session,” which takes place each Wednesday, all to keep the seniors socializing and safe from the dangerous temperatures.

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