It certainly seems timely to continue our discussion on summer weather and the effects of heat. Today the air is heavy, and temperatures are pushing 90 degrees. Not an easy day to be outside…or inside without the benefit of air conditioning!

Please be alert for signs that your elderly parents could be suffering from heat-related illness. The following are some warning signs related to heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

— Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; cold, pale, clammy skin; weakness; fast pulse; nausea; and fainting.

— Encourage your elderly parents or any seniors in your community to drink plenty of fluids. Our thirst mechanism is less sensitive as we grow older, so offer fluids even if your loved one doesn’t seem thirsty. (People who are on a fluid-restricted diet should consult their physician before changing their fluid intake.) Fresh fruit also is a good source of fluids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can increase dehydration.

— Heat stroke is a serious condition; the symptoms include body temperature higher than 103°; hot, red skin, either dry or moist; rapid and strong pulse; and possible unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately, and move the person to a cooler environment. Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or a bath. Do not give fluids.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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