We all agonize over hot weather! But, our loved ones and those with chronic medical conditions must be watched and monitored when temperatures are extreme. Specific prescription medications and over-the-counter medications (OTC) can have dangerous consequences for our elderly if not managed during the hot climate. Knowing what to look for if loved ones experience troubling symptoms created by taking certain medications is vital, because some signs may require urgent medication attention to prevent loss of life. The concern is real and so take note. Note that the list is not exhaustive, but the classes of medication shared are of high consequence.
Classes of Medications Needing Attention
We know medications are taken for a host of medical conditions. Drugs used to remove fluid or control blood pressure must be tracked if taken by your care recipient. These drugs are taken for cardiovascular diseases. Antipsychotic medication; is used to control agitation with loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Anticholinergic drugs are used for diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders. If vomiting occurs or loose stools happen(3–5 times or more)fluid is lost from the body and can become problematic. Antihistamines are drugs that treat the common cold, influenza, and allergies, as well as sleep aids, and limit an elder from knowing they are over-heated.
Keep in mind, loved ones with cognitive or verbal disabilities from disease or injury, may not communicate feeling overheated. The brain’s ability to process sensory data or regulate the body’s responses to heat is a huge factor with loved ones facing these challenges, so please pay attention.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, pay attention to symptoms that suggest heat-related problems(confusion, profuse sweating, nausea, dizziness, combative, lethargy, headache, pale skin color, elevated heart rate, or weak pulse)seek medical help, and do not hesitate to call 911!
Caregivers, know that you can help prevent heat-related emergencies, (also called hyperthermia) by keeping a loved one cool, lightly clothed, and watching for signs of heat concerns during hot weather. Cool, moistened towels over the forehead or back of the neck are also a way to help with body temperature during hot weather. Be Safe! Be Well!
Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse, case manager; CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers