Doctors see rise in heat-related illness in seniors

As temperatures increase, health officials urge elderly people to stay hydrated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sunny skies and warmer temperatures are what to expect in Florida. But the combination of heat and humidity in recent days has made it unbearable outside -- and it's not even July yet. 

That’s why doctors are warning people to stay hydrated, especially elderly people who are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.

Doctors at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville told News4Jax on Thursday they have seen an increase in the number of seniors suffering from heat-related illness.

A hospital spokesperson said they have been averaging several unresponsive elderly patients in each of their emergency rooms all week. 

Now, health officials are urging people to stay hydrated.

"The heat makes you hotter than I don't know what," said 73-year-old Mary Blitchington. 

Charlotte Cooper, 63, said the heat has been so unbearable, she's afraid she'll end up in the hospital. 

"I'm in a power chair. If I have to go to the store and it's too hot, I have to time myself to get out to the store before the heat comes up because it's bad and it will put you in the hospital," Cooper said. 

Cooper said she can only take up to 10 minutes in the heat.

“I get too hot. I get weak and feel like I want to fall out," she said.

According to doctors at Baptist Health, high heat and humidity exacerbates conditions seniors already might have, and due to age-related changes, they are not able to regulate their temperature as well as others.

“My daughter gives me plenty fluids. I have cranberry juice, apple juice, orange juice and plenty of water," Ruth Jackson, 89, told News4Jax.

Doctors advised seniors to stay hydrated.

“I drink a lot of liquids, but that’s not enough because by the time I get from here to the bus stop down there, I’m already drenched," Blitchington said.

Fortunately, sweating is a sign that your body is trying to cool itself off.

Hospital officials also advised people to check in on their elderly relatives to make sure they are staying cool and hydrated.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website

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