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Seniors and Heat: A Dangerous Combination

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A warm welcome to the two hottest months of the calendar year here in Central Texas! Seriously though, there are many concerns to be shared about exercise combined with the heat and humidity. One of the biggest issues in these heated months, especially for seniors, is dehydration. Following is a list, according to Healthline, of the risk factors in older adults:

Dehydration risk factors in older adults:

  • A decline in total body fluid. As we age, the amount of fluid in our bodies begins to decrease. This means there are fewer water reserves available for your body to use as you get older.
  • Lowered thirst response. Feeling thirsty is your body’s way of letting you know you need water. However, because the thirst response becomes weaker with age, older adults may not know they need to drink more fluids.
  • Decreased kidney function. The function of the kidneys can decline with age, meaning that more water may be lost through urination.
  • Health conditions and medications. Some older adults have underlying health conditions or take medications. In some cases, these conditions or medications can lead to an increase in water loss through urination.

So, how can you prevent dehydration? Well, the easy answer is to drink water. While the old adage “8 glasses of water per day,” is a pretty good general rule, not all bodies are equal, which means some people need more (especially if you are working in the heat and sweating.)

As we all know, water can become boring if it is all you drink day in and day out. When you need a little bit of a change, flavoring or fruit can be a great way to spice it up. On occasion, milk or juice are good ways to change up your hydration.

Remember, when it comes to drinking water, this should be a consistent, throughout the day process. Trying to sit down and drink a big glass of water all at once can be hard, so start with little sips throughout the day- you’ll be amazed at how it adds up!

By the way, did you know? “Heat-related deaths are one of the deadliest weather-related health outcomes in the United States.”

So here in Central Texas, not only do we have the 90+ degrees , but the humidity is a major contributing factor in our ability to cool our bodies. To put it simply, when there is moisture in the air, it can only absorb so much of our additional moisture (sweat). Without being able to sweat, or body temperature goes up. This can lead to three phases of heat-related health issues. The first is heat cramps. The second level is heat exhaustion. Symptoms include cool, moist skin; heavy perspiration, faintness or dizziness; fatigue; weak and fast pulse; muscle cramps, nausea and headache. The third phase comes when heat exhaustion is not addressed. Heat stroke includes an altered mental state, nausea and vomiting and racing heart rate to name a few.

In order to lower your risk of heat-related illness, The National Institute on Aging recommends a few things for older adults:

- Drink plenty of non-alcohol and non-caffeine liquids.

- Dress for the weather.

- Don’t try to exercise or do a lot of activities outdoors when it’s hot.

- Avoid crowded places when it’s hot outside- plan trips during non-rush hour times.

- Check the weather report before going outside.

If you do find that you are getting overheated, here are a few things that can help:

- Get out of the sun and into a cool place (preferably with air conditioning.)

- Start hydrating (avoiding alcohol and caffeine.)

- Shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water.

- Lie down and rest in a cool place.

- Visit your doctor or an emergency room if you don’t cool down quickly.

Heat and humidity are nothing to mess around with. CustomFitt will be sharing more information all month over on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/customfitttexas, so make sure to follow along and feel free to reach out if you have ANY questions!

Until next time, stay safe out there!

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