Heat tips for the elderly

COVINGTON -- The Centers for Disease Control reminds citizens during this period of extreme heat that elderly people (those 65 or older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:

-- Elderly people do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature;

-- They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that upsets normal body responses to heat;

-- They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

Therefore, the CDC has issued the following list of tips for the elderly to protect themselves from heat-related stress:

-- Drink cool, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages; (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)

-- Rest;

-- Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath;

-- If possible, seek an air conditioned environment;

-- If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting an air conditioned shopping mall or public library to cool off;

-- Keep warm areas ventilated (for instance, use a fan) if not cooled. Proper ventilation will promote adequate sweat evaporation to cool the skin;

-- Wear lightweight clothing;

-- If possible, remain indoors during the heat of the day;

-- Do not engage in strenuous activities;

-- Sunblocks and sunscreens with a protection factor of 15 (SPF 15) can be very helpful when one is exposed to extreme direct sunlight.

Also, the CDC offers the following tips for those who are concerned about elderly relatives or neighbors to protect them from becoming a victim of heat-related stress:

-- Visit older adults at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke;

-- Take them to air conditioned locations if they have transportation problems;

-- Make sure older adults have access to an electric fan whenever possible.