Heat-Related Illness Prevention for the Elderly

Try these easy tips for staying cool.

by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

As the nation heats up, folks age 65 and older are more prone to heat stress than younger people. Here are tips for preventing heat-related illnesses and stay hydrated while managing incontinence.

High temperatures can be dangerous at any age, but people 65 or older are more prone to heat stress than younger people. They don’t adjust as well to sudden temperature changes and may have health conditions or take medications that change a body’s response to heat. Add to that the combination of staying hydrated while managing incontinence, and summer weather can be a real challenge for the elderly.

Whether you’re a senior’s caregiver, relative, friend or neighbor, it’s important to visit older adults at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat stress. Inform your loved ones of the following preventative steps:
  • Drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages (not extremely cold, which can cause cramps).
  • Individuals limited by how much they can drink — whether because of incontinence, medication such as water pills, or other reasons — should discuss fluid intake with their doctors.
  • If nutrition and hydration are problems, the elderly should talk to their health care providers or dietitians about nutritionals, such as juices, shakes and powders.
  • Wearing lightweight, breathable clothing.
  • Resting and avoiding strenuous activities, including staying indoors in an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.
  • Taking cool baths or showers.

Never leave an elderly person, child or pet in a car. The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees within 10 minutes and 29 degrees in 20. And leaving a car running with air conditioning turned on is not an option, because passengers can be exposed to carbon monoxide.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic 
trained nutritionist
Dianna Malkowski
 specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisors for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question, or call 1-800-985-1353. 


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