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Heat Warning: Older Adults at Risk as Temps Rise

heat wave in the city and hand showing thermometer for high tempSweltering summer temperatures have settled in this week, with the National Weather Service issuing an excessive heat warning for a wide region stretching from the Washington, D.C., area to the Ohio Valley.

Temperatures in the Northeast are 5 to 10 degrees above normal, with New York City experiencing the the highest above-normal temperatures of any place in the country, according to the Associated Press. In New England, electricity use is nearing record levels as residents try and stay cool.

Health officials warn that the high temperatures and oppressive humidity mean older adults, in particular, need to take precautions.

People age 65 and older are more prone to heat-related problems, says theĀ  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because their bodies don’t adjust as well to changes in temperature. Older people are also more likely to have a chronic condition that can affect their ability to deal with high heat, especially if they don’t have air conditioning at home.

And, older adults should be aware that certain medications, such as beta blockers which slow the heart, can make it more difficult for the body to cool.

Older adults – and friends and family members who check on them – need to be aware of the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These include nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, weakness and rapid breathing and pulse.

In addition, here are steps older adults can take to protect their health during this hot, sticky season:


Photo: Tom Wang/Istockphoto