Extreme summer heat can be taxing for people of all ages but it can be exceptionally risky for those aged 65 and older. Seniors are more prone to heat stress than younger people for a variety of reasons.

Extreme summer heat can be taxing for people of all ages but it can be exceptionally risky for those aged 65 and older. Seniors are more prone to heat stress than younger people for a variety of reasons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control older adults simply do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature. The CDC says seniors are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change normal body responses to heat.

They also are more likely to take prescription drugs that damage the body’s capacity to control its temperature or that won’t allow perspiration reports the Better Health Channel.

For example, antidepressants, antihistamines, phenothiazines and anticholinergics (used for some psychiatric conditions) act on an area of the brain that affects the skin’s ability to seat. Beta-blockers (heart tablets) reduce the heart and lungs capability to become accustomed to stresses including hot weather.

Amphetamines, says the BHC increases body temperature. While diuretics (fluid tablets) work on the kidneys to increase fluid loss, quickly leading to dehydration in hot weather. Opiods and sedatives may decrease a person’s consciousness of bodily distress. Thus, important symptoms of heat stress may be ignored.

The BHC stresses that these examples are just a sample. Seniors should discuss their medications with their doctor or pharmacist.

The CDC offers five simple measures that can help seniors can do on their own to avoid heat stress.

Pay attention to weather reports. Temperatures can be extremely dangerous when they exceed 90 degrees. Review medication with your doctor. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. Take note of the color of urine. Brown or dark yellow urine suggests dehydration. Stay cool. Turn on your air-conditioner. Those who don’t have air-conditioners should try cool showers or use wet towels and sit in front of an electric fan. There are several ways to help an elderly relative or friend during periods of extreme heat.

1.Have available emergency contact information, medication list and medical conditions.

2.Check on them frequently, twice a day.  Look for signs of heat stress such as hot and dry skin, dizziness, headache and cramps.

3.If they don’t have air-conditioning in their home, take them to an air-conditioned site such as a library or shopping area.

4. Make sure their home has adequate ventilation.