WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) Senior citizens have more reasons than other age groups to beat the heat.
Yet a number of issues have combined to put them at higher risk lately.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, older Americans are self-isolating more than any other age group, being aware of their vulnerability to more severe complications from the virus.
At the same time, being “holed up” in their homes and apartments can put them in harm’s way for heat-related illnesses.
Being on fixed incomes or having long-standing habits of watching their finances carefully, they may not use air conditioning or even have it.
Dr. E. Robert Marks, family medicine director at Wheeling Hospital, says they may not even recognize how extremely hot it is.
He said many are on medications that suppress their ability to feel the temperature, recognize thirst or they may not perspire like a younger person would in the same circumstances.
Dr. Marks urges them to use air conditioning, wear cool light clothing and drink more water than they feel thirsty for.
For those whose traditional beverage might be coffee or tea, he urges them to stay away from caffeine, which can have a dehydrating effect, and instead choose cold water.
He said during heat waves, people without air conditioning are often urged to spend time at the movies, the mall or the library, but he said during the pandemic those options are limited.
He urges friends or family of the elderly to make sure the have an air conditioner or at last a window fan.
He said by taking steps to keep cool, many older Americans can avoid a trip to the hospital for heat-related illnesses.
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