With the hottest part of the summer approaching, the New York State Office for the Aging wants to encourage families of older New Yorkers to help protect seniors from the consequences heat can have on their health.

“Heat affects us all differently, but our older citizens are at greatest risk. Senior citizens are urged to exercise caution during the hottest of summer days,” said Patricia P. Pine, Ph.D., Director of the New York State Office for the Aging. “During periods of extreme heat and humidity, family members and friends living near older residents should periodically check on their condition to help avoid heat-related illnesses.”

Seniors are at greater risk because their cardiovascular systems cannot withstand heat-related stress or chronic illness leaves them more susceptible to the heat. There are several precautions that should be taken to help older New Yorkers avoid being overcome by the heat, including:

  • drinking plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages;
  • staying indoors, especially in well-ventilated or air conditioned areas;
  • closing blinds or curtains to keep direct sunlight from entering the home;
  • staying in the shade and wearing a hat when outdoors;
  • wearing loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing and choosing fabrics such as cotton or silk that allow the body to release heat;
  • taking cool showers or baths; and
  • eating light meals of salads and fruit that help replenish fluids to the body.

Following these tips and making common sense decisions will help not only seniors but all New Yorkers remain cool during periods of extreme heat and humidity.

“I would encourage families of older residents to visit them periodically to make sure they are taking appropriate steps to help keep as cool as possible and call them daily to make sure everything is okay,” Dr. Pine said.

During this period, older residents will be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses including heat stroke and sun poisoning. If you have questions or concerns about how the heat is affecting you or a loved one, consult a physician.

New York Office on Aging