Tips for the elderly and people who have to work outside in high temperatures

Elderly are most vulnerable in heat

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - When temperatures are high, the most vulnerable age groups are children and the elderly.

Recent studies show that 40 percent of heat-related deaths in the U.S. were among people over 65-years old. Doctors say older adults are especially vulnerable because age, medical conditions and prescription medicines can impair their ability to regulate temperature and even prevent sweating.

But staff at the Senior Friendship Center have a great escape from that beating sun. There’s a live band that plays every day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at their location in Downtown Sarasota and it’s just one of several indoor activities offered there. They also have indoor exercise, yoga and dance classes, card games, a library and computers that are all open to the public.

The Friendship Center is primarily for people who are 50 years old or older, but they don’t check age and allow anyone inside, including the homeless. Most classes cost $2 to $3 each, but they also don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay.

Staff said they see a significant increase in the number of people who come here during the summer.

“When it gets really hot outside, it’s dangerous for people to spend a lot of time outdoors, so we invite people in to come and enjoy the different program offerings that we have," explained Crystal Rothhaar, director of communications for the Senior Friendship Center. “Every Tuesday in July, we’ll be providing cool treats, like Popsicles and ice cream and different opportunities for people to stay cool.”

For more information about the Senior Friendship Center, click here.

When it’s hot, staff recommend older adults drink plenty of water, eat cooling snacks and stay indoors at facilities like these. But what about those who have to work outside? There are some professions, like construction workers who can’t avoid the beating sun.

In that case, the Florida Department of Health said it is super important to take breaks more often and in the shade or indoors. People who stay outside in this heat should also consistently be drinking water and avoid drinks with high sugar, caffeine and alcohol because all three of those can cause dehydration.

After a long day in the sun, it’s possible to experience heat exhaustion or a heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are fatigue, clamminess and dehydration.

This can be treated at home, with water, rest and a cold shower, but anyone who has those symptoms plus a fever, should call 911 or go to the emergency room. According to medical professionals, it could be an indication of heat stroke.

“[With] heat stroke, you present all the symptoms and signs of heat exhaustion, plus fever and rapid heart rate," explained Aleksandra Fitzgibbons, health educator and registered nurse with the Florida Department of Health. "So if you are feeling that palpitation, that is an emergency situation, that is a heat stroke.”

Fitzgibbons also added that adults are made of 40 to 50 percent water and kids are 60 to 70 percent, so it’s crucial that everyone replenishes the fluids they sweat out in this hot sun.

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