Senior Living

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Health & Spirit

Keeping Cool

Doug Mayberry on

Q: After decades of slogging through cold winters, I am now retired in sunny Arizona. Even if I've been enjoying the different weather and culture here, I'm still not used to the heat.

A few people around my retirement community are finding themselves in the same boat, and apparently, we should watch out for heatstroke and other problems.

How can we take care of ourselves in the heat?

A: When you know it's hot out, keep an eye on yourself and any warning signs.

Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heatstroke, functioning as a warning sign that your body is overheating. The Mayo Clinic designates signs of heat exhaustion as heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and severe headaches. Your skin becomes cool and moist, even forming goosebumps.

To treat heat exhaustion, you should quickly cool your body using cool air, ice, water or cooling blankets. If you're outside, get back indoors to air conditioning.

 

If you find yourself tipping over into heatstroke, it's time to get medical care. The hallmarks of heatstroke are sweating, confusion and even seizures.

Heatstrokes are more dangerous than you might think -- especially for seniors -- and have a high mortality rate.

The best treatment is prevention. Instead of letting yourself succumb to the heat, take care of yourself by wearing lightweight (and light-colored!) clothing with a loose fit. Stay inside with air conditioning or fans.

If you want to get outside, plan ahead. Schedule outdoor activities or walks for cooler times of the day, avoiding the midday sun (especially around 3 p.m., when the heat peaks). -- Emma, Doug's granddaughter

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