• July 21, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

PRIME TIMES: 60 Plus Taking precaution and staying out of the heat

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Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Tue Jul 9, 2019.

Barbara, a resident of Forest Hills, was walking along Queens Boulevard one day last week. The midday sun was beating down when, all of a sudden, she witnessed a nearby elderly woman fall in the street, the victim, she suspected, of overheating.

According to Barbara, the police arrived and helped the woman back onto her feet and waited with her until an ambulance arrived.

Such incidents are much more common than one might believe. The moral of the story is: Be very careful during the scorching summer days, especially if you are elderly or if you suffer from certain chronic illnesses.

Dr. Bijan Golyan, a cardiologist with Sinai North Shore Medical Center, explained that the heat can affect people in many ways. Individuals with lung disease or heart disease, he said, are particularly vulnerable. Extreme sweating can quickly lead to dehydration and even heat stroke, he added.

Even indoors, he advised, precautions must be taken. “If a room is very hot, the elderly don’t do well,” he said.

And, he warned, “If it is very hot outside, you should not go outside.”

Symptoms of overheating include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, altered mental state and exacerbated shortness of breath in heart and lung patients, Golyan said.

Debbie Vogel, 61, of Rego Park, said she has “learned to drink plenty of water before going outside to prevent dehydration.”

She loves taking long walks, she said, but she needs to limit the time she spends outdoors to avoid sweating too much and feeling dizzy.

“I carry an ice pack and put it on my forehead when I feel too hot,” she said. “I also carry water to drink and a towel, which I put cold water on, and wrap it around my neck.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.”

Seniors, the CDC website indicates, “are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.”

Also, seniors are “more likely to take prescription medications that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.”

The CDC offers several do’s and don’ts when it comes to summertime heat:

DO remain in an air-conditioned room as much as possible.

DO take cool showers or baths to cool down.

DO get plenty of rest.

DO drink more water than usual and DON’T wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

DON’T use the oven or stove to cook; it will make the house hotter.

DON’T engage in strenuous activities.

Perhaps most importantly, the CDC recommends that you “seek medical care immediately if you have any symptoms of heat-related illness. In addition to those mentioned by Golyan, the CDC points out that muscle cramps may be the result of extreme heat.

The SeniorHealth 365 website issues a sobering statement: “It is not uncommon for deaths to occur with freak heat waves and the elderly are among the more likely fatalities.”

It also indicates that “seniors should not solely depend on their perception of temperature. It is not uncommon for an older person to be feeling cold even in a warm to hot environment.”

This is possible because the temperature control centers in the brain become less sensitive with age, the site explains.

Additional suggestions it offers for keeping cool include staying out of the direct sunlight as much as possible and dressing in light-colored, airy clothes.

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