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Finding Relief from the Heat Can Be Lifesaver

Older people can be more vulnerable to excessive heat and dehydration. (Joenomias/Pixabay)
Older people can be more vulnerable to excessive heat and dehydration. (Joenomias/Pixabay)
July 4, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. - When the temperatures are high, cooling centers can be real lifelines.

Hot summer days can be dangerous for senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory diseases, diabetes or dementia. Some medications can accelerate dehydration in hot weather. When temperatures rise, said Nora Duncan, AARP Connecticut state director, neighbors, family members and caregivers should be alert to signs that a loved one is experiencing problems.

"The signs for people to look out for are weakness and any kind of confusion, making sure that vulnerable seniors are staying hydrated and there's plenty of water to go around," she said.

Many public libraries stay open to help people escape the heat, and a complete list of local cooling centers is available by calling 211.

Duncan said seniors sometimes may not experience excessive heat, or respond to attempts to keep cool in the same way that a younger person would.

"Bad circulation, for instance, will make people feel like they're cold in the air conditioning," she said, "but that may not be reflective of what's actually happening in their body."

Duncan said the consequences can be severe.

"Almost 400 people a year die from heat stroke and in heat waves," she said, "and many of these are elderly people who don't often realize that they're overheating and in danger."

Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, nausea, rapid breathing or heartbeat, muscle weakness and slurred speech.

More information is online at aarp.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT