High temperatures are more dangerous for seniors

By  | 

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- A triple-digit heat index can be dangerous for anyone, but the elderly are especially at risk.

The warning signs are a lot more subtle for seniors, which is one reason doctors say they're better off staying inside when the temperatures are pushing 100-degrees.

"You really shouldn't have an elderly person sitting out in full sun or sitting out in the heat, they should be in a cool, air-conditioned place," Dr. Kimberly Ploehn from Sparrow Urgent Care said.

The risk for heat stroke rises as we get older because our bodies can't regulate our temperature as well as they used to. The elderly also have a harder time regulating their pulse and blood pressure. That makes it harder to recognize the warning signs.

"The signs for elderly can be a lot more subtle than they are for younger people. Maybe they're just more quiet than normal or they lose their appetite, or they might not be aware of it. So definitely look for those signs," Dr. Ploehn said.

Dr. Ploehn says it's best for seniors to stay indoors. Warren Nicely and others at Great Lakes Christian Homes retirement community agreed.

It's going to be awfully hot this weekend, in the high nineties (laughs) I'll stay inside where its nice and cool," Nicely said.

"I won't stay out there and let myself get too hot. Everything is air-conditioned inside, so we try to get out before the heat gets bad and not stay out for a long time," Ray Hall said.

It's not just a physical issue, many seniors put themselves at risk because they won't speak up.

"They really don't want to be perceived as a bother, so it's really important that we take the lead on checking in on them and making sure that they're ok," Nutrition Director for the Tri-County Office of Aging Carl Buonodono said.

CATA and other agencies offer free rides to cooling centers in some cases. You can call 2-1-1 to arrange one.