Seniors and heat stress

It’s that time of year again! Summer is here in San Antonio. You step outside, and it doesn’t take long until you’re in a shower of sweat. The sweltering heat is not only uncomfortable, but it can be fatal especially for senior citizens who are more susceptible to the heat. We want you to know there are a few, simple steps that seniors can take to stay safe and avoid heat stress all summer.


There are different kinds of heat-related illnesses. Here are the signature symptoms for each type of heat illness:

  1. Heat Stroke: The symptoms include a temperature that’s 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, hot skin, a strong pulse and a headache. People will experience dizziness, confusion or may even lose consciousness.
  2. Heat Exhaustion: The symptoms are very similar to heat stroke. One of the telling signs of heat exhaustion is zero sweat. A person may get muscle cramps or faint.
  3. Heat Cramp: This heat-related illness is caused by heavy exercise. A person may be sweating profusely after a tough work-out.
  4. Sunburn: Hot, red, painful skin. There may be blisters that form on the skin too.



Heat-related tragedies can happen at any age. Dallas County officials confirmed that a 30-year-old Mesquite man who was working outside died from heat stress. The temperature outside was 96 degrees, according to 11 News CBS DFW. But seniors are generally, more sensitive to heat-related illnesses. They can’t adjust to changing temperatures compared to young people. They may be taking medications that can make them even more sensitive to the heat. Here are preventative steps to avoid problems:

  1. Drink Plenty of Water: You should keep your loved one hydrated as much as possible. Our bodies natural defense against heat is to sweat. If your loved one can’t move around easily, keep water bottles or cups of water around the home.
  2. Blast the Cool Air: Stay indoors with the air conditioning running. If they can’t afford to turn down the air or to have fans in their home to provide ventilation, San Antonio public libraries serve as cooling stations.
  3. Avoid the Oven or Stove Top: The extra heat from cooking adds to the warm air in your home. If possible, stick to foods in the summer that do not require cooking. Sandwiches, cereal or salads are good options. Fruit is a water-rich food that can double as hydration.
  4. Think Light: If your clothing is dark, you clothes will absorb and trap the heat of the sun.

“The heat is serious stuff for our senior citizens. Check in on the elderly during the summer, especially those who are living alone,” said Andy Cruz, Vice President of PRIDE PHC.  “Stop by their house for a quick visit or pick up the phone to check in on them. It doesn’t take much to energy on your part to make a welfare check. But every summer, senior citizens die in Texas because of too much exposure to the heat.”

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