Wednesday 24th February 2016
North East District
The Chief Health Officer has issued a heat health alert to notify you of forecast extreme heat conditions at or above heat health temperature thresholds (based on the Bureau of Meteorology 7-day forecast).
The fact that people older than 65 years are more prone to heat stress and do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature is not often understood.
Higher temperatures can be deadly, experts say. That’s because our bodies lose the ability to deal with heat as we age. International expert, Dr. Neil Resnick, Chief of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says that from the time we’re born until age 25 to 30, all our organ systems are growing and developing. Then at age 30 every body part starts to decline at a rate of about 1 percent per year.
“The bottom line is that older people have less of a physical reserve to count on when they’re challenged by high temperatures.”
Older people may not even realize that they need more water because the sense of thirst diminishes with age so people don’t always know they’re dehydrating. Making matters worse, older kidneys aren’t as good at keeping fluids in the system.
Add to that the host of medications taken by older people — some of which can impair sweating and the heart’s ability to pump harder in response to these heat-related demands — and it’s a recipe for disaster on days when the mercury skyrockets.
In extreme heat, blood is redirected to the skin to help cool us down. To make up for that, the body needs to make more blood so that the heart, brain and other organs will get enough. But that takes a lot of water, which may be in short supply when a person has been sweating a lot.
Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
We need to ensure to check up on our older families and friends and ensure that during these times they are regularly drinking water.
Seniors Information COTA Victoria presents a free Need 2 Know Session to seniors groups on Staying Safe in the Heat contact 1300 13 50 90 for more information.