Tips for senior citizens to stay safe and cool as summer temperatures heat up

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Friday, July 1, 2022
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Excessive heat can be dangerous for anyone, but it's especially dangerous for those 65 and over. A local expert shares advice on staying safe when the temperatures rise.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Excessive heat can be dangerous for anyone, but it's especially dangerous for those 65 and over. A local expert shares advice on staying safe when the temperatures rise.

What would a Philadelphia summer be without "hazy, hot, and humid?"

We can't change that, but Dr. Steve Moonblatt of Riddle Hospital, part of Main Line Health, says the heat should not make you sick.

"Their body just can't handle the heat and humidity as well as they could, you know, 20-30 years ago," he said.

Chronic medical conditions can also change the heat response, as can medications. Blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, decongestants, overactive bladder treatments, and psychiatric drugs all cause heat intolerance.

"Talk to your doctor, to go over all your medications," said Dr. Moonblatt.

Dr. Moonblatt regularly sees seniors in the emergency department wearing layers of clothing because of their air conditioners, but when they go outside, those layers block the release of body heat.

"It's important to shed those layers and allow your body to sort of naturally regulate itself," he said.

Take frequent breaks if you're outdoors, or come into air conditioning as much as possible.

The library is a great place, the movie theater, the mall, YMCA - anything that can kind of cool you down for a bit," said Dr. Moonblatt.

Staying hydrated is essential, but don't just take a water bottle only when you go out.

"I would tell people to drink before you go outside in the sun. That's very important," said Dr. Moonblatt.

If your doctor limits your fluids, ask what's right for hot weather. Anyone outside for long should have sports drinks as well as water to replace salt, potassium and other electrolytes.

Dr. Moonblatt says knowing when to seek help is also important. Get care immediately for symptoms like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, or vomiting.