Keep an eye on seniors and help them weather the heat

Older people may be at risk of serious illness from dehydration and heat stress as Queensland swelters under a summer heatwave, National Seniors Australia says.

With the weather bureau forecasting temperatures to remain in the mid to high 30s - and even top 40 degrees in some inland areas, National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke called on Queenslanders to look out for elderly family members, friends and neighbours.

“Frail older people are among the most vulnerable when it comes to enduring heat waves,” Mr Henschke said.

“So, if you can, please find a few minutes to drop in just to make sure they have their home well ventilated and they are wearing appropriate loose, light clothing, and drinking enough water.

“It may mean the difference between older people seeing out the end of the heat wave in relative comfort and a trip to the hospital emergency department in an ambulance.

“Also, many older people are unable or unwilling to open enough windows as they fear break-ins but keeping their windows shut in extreme heat can make them sick.

“Or if they have air conditioning, the cost of running it may discourage them from turning it on.

“So, if your older friend or loved one has mobility issues and their home feels more like an oven, consider taking them to a local cinema, shopping centre or library, so they can cool down in the air conditioning. It may just save their life.”

The Heart Foundation has also warned people with heart disease or people taking medicines for blood pressure or excess fluid to take extra care during heatwaves.

The Foundation said that dehydration could put extra strain on the heart by making it work harder to pump blood around the body, putting those affected at risk of a heart attack.

As well as drinking water regularly, seniors are urged to avoid alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks, and if going outside, to stay in the shade and avoid physical exercise.

Ian Henschke is available for comment on 0418 815 319

Media contact: Rosemary Desmond (07) 3233 9106

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