Older People And Heatwaves

As we age, we can have a higher risk of heat-related illness, especially if we live alone, have medical conditions, or if we take certain medicines.

Physical changes happen as we get older, and we may be less likely to notice we are becoming overheated or dehydrated, and some medications can make this worse. Older people are also less able to cool their body by sweating.

Some medicines can make you more prone to sunburn and heat stress, so it is important to watch for signs of being affected by hot weather.

If you have a chronic medical condition and take regular medication, talk with your General Practitioner about how to take care of your health during hot weather.

Always speak with your doctor or pharmacist for more advice about the medicines you are taking.

If you are an older person or if you care for someone who is elderly, the following tips may help you:

  • Arrange for a friend or relative to visit you once or twice a day to check how you are and that you have everything you need to stay healthy in the heat.
  • Take simple steps to keep cool:
  • Use air-conditioners and fans set to cool
  • Put a wet cloth around your neck or put your feet in a bowl of cool water
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you do not feel thirsty, and take a bottle of water wherever you go so you do not become dehydrated.
  • Swap large meals for smaller ones. Make cool meals, like salads, and avoid using ovens or stoves in hot weather – they can make your home much hotter.
  • A trip to an air-conditioned public space, like the local library, cinema or shopping centre, may help you keep cool and give you some relief from hot weather. But remember, avoid going outside in the hottest part of the day.
  • Register with the free Red Cross Telecross REDi (SA) service on 1800 188 071. Trained Red Cross volunteers call older people up to three times a day to make sure they are well and coping in hot weather.

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