IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Summer heat can get to us all, but especially the seniors in our community.
Family practice physician Dallas Rindfleisch frequently does home visits for assisted senior living communities in Idaho Falls. He tells us how symptoms of heat exhaustion frequently show up in his patients.
"A lot of people may think that they have like a sickness or an illness coming on because they can get nauseous, they can feel tired rundown fatigue and they may think it's like a stomach flu. However, it could be something like heat exhaustion," he said.
Dr. Rindfleisch says seniors don't adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature.
Factors that lead to heat exhaustion in seniors include, "medications or, for example in the elderly, they have less muscle tone and decreased adipose tissue, which help regulate body temperature. So they're more susceptible because their bodies, don't have the same body composition that younger folks do have to maintain that body temperature regulation," Rindfleisch said.
That being said, there are plenty of easy things your senior can do to prevent experiencing heat exhaustion or cool down.
The staff at Visiting Angels, a home care service for seniors, follow these tips and tips to keep their clients cool throughout the warmer months.
"Make sure they stay hydrated, make sure they're not out and about in the middle of the day when it's the hottest, so that's usually from 11 to four. Make sure when they're inside that the blinds are closed, and they're using air conditioning. If they have a ceiling fans, those are always a good thing. Eating small meals throughout the day, avoiding things like proteins, sugar, alcohol, things that might dehydrate the body," said Visiting Angels community relations director, Katie Gasser.
Turing off lights that aren't being used, wearing loose fitted clothing, and when needed placing a cold damp cloth on the wrists can help the body cool down.
Gasser says, something that is super important is that that these seniors have someone who will pay attention."We strongly encourage our angels and family members of any elderly, to make sure you're looking for these signs, elderly are not likely to complain or say that something's wrong so make sure you're paying attention."
Dr. Rindfleisch says if a senior’s heart rate starts to go up, or they start to get dizzy, it’s time to call 9-1-1.