Summer in Brooklyn is a relaxing, magical time filled with outdoor activities and a wonderful feeling of community. Unfortunately, the sizzling heat of summer in the city can pose special health risks for seniors.
One of the biggest unseen threats is the common air conditioner. Misused, malfunctioning or poorly maintained air conditioners are a serious concern during extremely hot weather. According to a recent report, roughly a third of seniors live with insufficient or non-functioning air conditioning. This can lead to a number of medical issues or make existing conditions flare up.
Long-term heat exposure can cause multiple illnesses or symptoms such as heat exhaustion, edema  (swelling), heat cramps, syncope  (fainting), even potentially fatal heat strokes .
HOW SENIORS CAN BEAT THE HEAT.
- Drink plenty of liquids and eat fruits and vegetables containing lots of fluid. Avoid drinking too much coffee, tea or alcohol, since these will dehydrate you.
- If you live in a home or apartment without fans or air conditioning, follow these steps to lower your chance of heat problems:
- Keep windows open at night to allow cool air to pass through. Keep windows open during the day for cross ventilation, but put up a sheet or light curtains to block out the sun's heat.
- Find a cool, air conditioned public place like a mall, library, senior center or movie theater.
- Consider investing in a portable air conditioning unit. They're cheap and easy to use.
- Pay attention to the weather report. You’re more at risk as the temperature or humidity rise or when there’s an air pollution alert.
- Dress in cooler natural fabrics such as cottons rather than synthetic fibers. Also, remember that light-colored clothes reflect the sun and heat better than dark colors.
- Avoid crowded places when it’s hot outside and plan trips during non-rush hour times.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT A SENIOR IS SUFFERING FROM A HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS.
First, get them out of the sun and into an air conditioned or other cool place.
Offer them fluids such as water, fruit and vegetable juices. Encourage them to shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water. Apply a cold, wet cloth to their wrists or neck, and urge them to lie down and rest, preferably in a cool place.
Click here  to learn more about the unique medical challenges faced by senior citizens.