Experts warn heat especially hard on elderly, check often

Experts warn heat especially hard on elderly, check often
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According to the CDC, more than 600 people in the U.S. die from extreme heat every year.

With a heat wave here in the 4-States, local experts are reminding people to stay cool and to check in on the elderly, who are especially susceptible to heat stress…

82-year-old Barbara Tustin has called this house home for the past 50 years, and during that time, she’s rarely turned on the AC.

“When I’m in air conditioning, it gets cold and I cannot stand it. I hurt all over, so I won’t turn it on until it gets about 100 degrees and then I will turn on,” said Tustin.

Tustin says friends and family know better than to ask her to cool the house down with an air conditioner, and even when she does turn it on, she prefers to keep the temperature high.

“I turn it to 80 degrees and it don’t go either up or down. It stays right there.”

Health experts at an assisted living facility in Carthage say the elderly are susceptible to hyperthermia, or heat exhaustion, for a number of reasons.

“They’re not as active, and they can’t regulate their body heat as well as most of us can, and sometimes, even in the older population, they forget that they’re hot and they bundle up,” said Robyn Gardner, a certified medical assistant, Maple Tree Terrace.

So, while some may like it hot, it’s important to watch for signs of confusion, lethargy, or lack of appetite, especially in adults 65 and older.

“Try to at least drink anywhere from 4 to 8 ounces of water at least every one to two hours, that’s what we recommend here. We offer plenty of fluids throughout the day, and if you’re going to go outside, don’t do it in the heat of the day,” said Gardner.

Gardner also explains that certain medications or medical conditions can heighten dehydration.

“People with breathing issues, especially asthma and COPD, which is congestive heart failure, those folks have an increased difficulty breathing because of the humidity also. It can cause them to be short of breath, it can decrease that oxygen flow to the brain.”

Tustin says that when her house gets too hot, she enjoys sitting in the shade, but her secret to staying cool, is to go slow.

“Watch what you do and take time at what you do.”

The CDC also suggests avoiding the use of an oven or stove to cook, as it will only make a warm house hotter.

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