Certain areas of the U.S., particularly the west coast and southwest, are known for their high temperatures. Temperatures can stay in the 90s and 100s for weeks or months at a time. Unfortunately, this excessive heat has already led to fatalities this year. Santa Clara County officials confirmed in June that two elderly residents passed away due to hyperthermia, which is the condition of the body’s internal temperature becoming too high and the body being unable to cool itself down.
Elderly individuals, meaning those over the age of 60, are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses and death. As summer fully sets in and California experiences very high temperatures, it is crucial that individuals and facilities take extra precautions to protect seniors from the heat.
Elderly are Particularly Vulnerable to Heat-Related Illnesses and Death
Older adults are more vulnerable to heat-related conditions for a variety of reasons. Seniors do not necessary feel the heat the same way as younger individuals, which can lead them to remain in overly hot conditions too long. Unfortunately, elderly individuals’ bodies cannot regulate their temperatures as well as they used to. For instance, seniors do not sweat like younger individuals, which makes it harder for their bodies to cool down.
Seniors may no longer feel thirst the way they did when they were younger. This is one of the reasons elderly people are often dehydrated, and they and their caretakers must be conscious of their fluid intake. Dehydration mixed with extreme heat can have disastrous results.
All of this means elderly individuals may not realize how hot it is while their body struggles to cool down. Without consciously recognizing the temperature outside or in their home and the length of time they have spent in the hot environment, elderly individuals increase their risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and death.
Check on Your Senior Relatives
If you have elderly loved ones living at home or in a nursing home, check on them regularly during the summer months. For seniors living at home, it is essential that they have working central air or at least one air conditioning unit. Be sure to go over or have another relative or family friend go over and check that it is working. If your loved one has a caretaker, make sure he or she keeps the home at a safe and comfortable temperature. You want to be sure of the same at a nursing facility. Also, talk with the caretaker or nursing home staff about how they prevent heat-related conditions and their action plan if they realize your loved one has become over heated.
Did Your Loved One Suffer an Avoidable Injury From the Heat?
If you have an elderly loved on in another person or facility’s care and he or she suffered a heat-related illness like heat stroke, or if the worst happened and your loved one died from the heat, then contact our California personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Brod Law Firm today. If a caretaker or facility was responsible for your relative’s health and safety, you may have a right to seek compensation based on their negligent care.
(image courtesy of Milind Kaduskar)