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Why is heat so dangerous for the elderly?

It is not uncommon to hear about heat-related deaths of elderly adults when temperatures soar in New Mexico. The heat is hard on anybody, but elderly individuals have an increased risk due to a few different factors. UC Davis explains that older adults often have health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, that can lead to issues with circulation and affect heat dissipation within the body. These medical conditions can affect how heat affects their bodies or make them unable to tell when they are overheated.

Another related issue is certain medications they may take. Some medications can cause dehydration. Extreme heat dehydrates the body, so mix that with medication and dehydration is a serious risk. If an elderly person becomes dehydrated, it can lead to serious health complications, including death.

Dementia also increases the risks for heat-related illnesses and issues. A person with dementia may not be taking in enough fluids. He or she should forget to open a window or turn on a fan when it is hot. It is even possible for the person to wander outside and be exposed to the heat that way. There are many ways dementia can put a person at high risk for heat-related issues.

It is essential that patients in a nursing home environment are monitored even more when the weather gets hot. Fluid intake should be monitored more carefully. It is also important for nursing homes to ensure individual rooms are staying cool. Being aware and staying on top of things can save lives. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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