Heat Safety for Seniors

Elderly woman sitting on sofa in living room cooling off with floor fan trying to relieve heat of hot summer weather. Senior woman drinks sports beverage to stay hydrated

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, over 2,000 deaths from heat exposure between 2009 to 2019. Of deaths among Arizona residents, 34 percent occurred in older adults over the age of 65. As temperatures, the aging population, and AC shortages continue to rise, an increasing number of at-risk Arizonans are feeling the strain.

Why are seniors at higher risk? Seniors are at higher risk for heat related illness due to age-related changes, such as decreased circulation, sensory perception, and inefficient sweat glands.  Chronic conditions and medications can affect the body’s physiology and medication interactions (decreased sweating, losing fluids, blood pressure and heart rate).  Certain conditions also affect salt and fluid intake, which can then further lead to loss of electrolytes and dehydration.

Heat Safety Tips

If you or someone you know is experiencing air conditioning outages or extreme heat sensitivity, please share the following heat safety tips:

  1. Stay cool indoors
    • If your home does not have AC or you need a change of scenery, this is the perfect time to visit your favorite local coffee shop, library, or museum. Many are free and open to the public!
    • Avoid being outside during peak temperature times – in Phoenix, this is typically 2-5pm.
  2. Stay hydrated
    • For healthy adults, the recommendation of daily water intake for men is 15.5 cups and for women 11.5 cups.
    • Look for nearby hydration stations.
    • Use a sports drink can replace these electrolytes. Excessive sweating removes salt and minerals (electrolytes) from your body, which need to be replenished.
      • Be sure to look for low sugar/calorie options for optimal hydration.
    • Avoid drinks such as coffee, tea, or other high-sugar options as they have a diuretic effect (cause you to lose fluid).
    • If you have a chronic health condition such as kidney disease or hypertension, check with your medical provider on water intake recommendations.
  3. Wear sunscreen
    • Apply sunscreen that has an SPF 30 or higher with broad-spectrum protection at least 30 minutes to sun exposure.
    • Apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or as directed on the label.
    • Sunburn affects your body to cool down and can make you dehydrated, so take preventative steps to avoid sunburn.

Heat Relief Resources

  • FSL Care By Design – Call 602-285-1800 to get connected with FSL and external health and housing resources.
  • Phoenix Heat Relief Network – The heat relief network consolidates all free water and indoor cooling stations in one interactive map to easily find the location closest to you.
  • 211 ArizonaYou can visit the 211 website for additional heat relief resources or call 211 to speak to a specialist about heat related services in your area. 

About FSL

Established in 1974, FSL is dedicated to providing integrated, customized care for those who need it in the Phoenix area. We offer a wide range of home- and community-based services, including:

These services are designed to enable Arizonans of all ages to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. So, if you or someone you know is struggling to have their needs met, don’t hesitate to contact us and find out how we can help you. And if you’re looking to give back, consider donating or volunteering your time to our mission. We can’t wait to work with you!

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