Elderly people, age 65 years and older, face a higher risk of developing heatstroke in hot weather. Heatstroke is a health condition where the body is exposed to high temperatures and is not able to cool down. After a short while, heatstroke can lead to serious problems, disabilities and even death. Family caregivers, family members and senior care assistants should all be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of heatstroke in the elderly.
There are many different symptoms of heatstroke that signal that the elderly person’s body is entering a dangerous condition. The problem is that many of the more subtle symptoms for heat exhaustion (the precursor to heatstroke) and heatstroke are quite similar to some age-related conditions. If family caregivers or senior care aides are used to seeing those conditions in the elderly person, they may misinterpret what is happening.
Here are 5 subtle symptoms of heatstroke in the elderly that might be confused with other age-related conditions.
- Rapid Pulse
With a heatstroke, a rapid pulse is not unusual as the body frantically tries to redistribute its efforts into cooling down. However, many seniors have tachycardia, a fast heartbeat. This can be due to certain medications they might be on. Other conditions that might cause a rapid pulse include anxiety, overactive thyroid, anemia or dehydration.
Seniors can experience dizziness for a number of reasons not related to heatstroke. Blood pressure issues, inner ear problems, medication side effects, vertigo, and cardiovascular disease are all age-related causes that can create dizziness in the elderly. Anyone involved in senior care should take any symptoms of dizziness seriously.
People of all ages suffer from headaches from time to time, even seniors. Common and not-so-common causes of geriatric headaches can be a result of poor sleep, dehydration, cold or flu, chronic migraines, jaw or denture problems, trigeminal neuralgia, herpes virus, subdural hematoma or as a side effect of any number of medications.
- Lack of Sweating
It’s well-established that senior skin doesn’t function as efficiently as a younger person’s skin, and that includes the sweat glands. The sweat glands shrink and are less sensitive to temperature triggers, making it harder for an aging body to self-regulate. Since seniors may not sweat much even in hot temperatures, this important symptom of heatstroke can easily be missed.
It’s a sad fact that elderly loved ones can start to struggle with disorientation and confusion, especially if they are in a new situation that is out of their regular routine. When disorientation happens in an outdoor setting in warm temperatures, family caregivers and senior care assistants should look closely for other symptoms of heatstroke.
Because there are so many subtle symptoms of heat stroke that may appear as a result of other age-related conditions, it can be easy to miss heatstroke in elderly loved ones before things get extremely serious. By educating themselves on the more subtle symptoms of heatstroke in seniors, family caregivers can make sure their loved ones get medical attention as soon as possible.
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