Coping with the heat
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[JULY 14, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- If it
seems harder to cope with the heat than when you were younger, you
may be right. The body's cooling system becomes less efficient with
age, and this puts increased stress on the heart. That is the word
from Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson, who
has issued a list of reminders to help older people deal with the
heat that is expected this summer.
"I want to remind older people
now to take steps to avoid heat stress," Johnson said. "Although
most of us bundle up against the cold, we often fail to recognize
that extreme heat and humidity pose similar threats, particularly as
Mr. Johnson said humidity,
combined with temperature, make up the heat index, which is similar
to the wind-chill factor in winter. If the temperature is in the 90s
with high humidity, it can feel like it is well over 100 degrees.
To cope with heat, Johnson says
older people should take these steps:
- Avoid long exposure to
- Drink plenty of fluids,
remembering that water is best.
- Avoid caffeine and
- Spend as much time as
possible in an air-conditioned or cool environment -- either at
home or at community cooling centers.
- Use fans in
well-ventilated areas, remembering that a fan in a closed room
simply redistributes the heat.
- Have family, friends and
neighbors check on seniors regularly to see how they are
withstanding the heat.
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During heat emergencies, communities are involved in door-to-door
outreach; senior centers, adult day service sites and other familiar
buildings serve as cooling centers; and information is provided on
an ongoing basis through agencies serving seniors, Johnson said.
Department on Aging news release]