Spring has always been a wonderful time of the year- winter coats are put away, baseball is on TV, flowers are blossoming and cool breezes flow through the windows. Spring seems like a distant memory as we race directly into the hot summer heat. Extreme temperature is not healthy for anyone. Knowing the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them can be invaluable.
Summer Heat and Health Risks
Seniors often have other chronic medical issues or take medications that put them at a greater risk for heat stroke (confusion, fainting, temp of over 104, not sweating) heat exhaustion (dizzy, weak, nausea, clammy skin), heat edema (swelling in feet and ankles), heat cramps (tightening in stomach and muscles) and syncope (dizziness). Seniors with heart, lung, or kidney diseases are especially susceptible to heat-related issues as well as those that are overweight. The elderly should rest in a cool place if they are feeling any of these symptoms. Additionally, you can instruct your loved one or their caregiver to call 311 if any of these symptoms occur.
Keeping Senior Loved Ones Cool
You can help your elderly family members and neighbors follow these easy tips to stay safe through the long, hot summer.
Hydration to Beat the Summer Heat
Remind the elderly to drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, but fruit juices are OK. Sports drinks with electrolytes and ice pops will help with hydration. Water down sports drinks to help provide more hydration than electrolytes. Otherwise, the excess salt and sugar in those drinks could do more harm than good. Additionally, your loved one should have water nearby at all times. Remind them to sip it constantly. If they are prescribed to limit liquids, talk to their doctor about how to add fluids in hot weather.
Air Conditioning and Cooling Centers
Air conditioning and fans are best to combat extreme heat but are not always available for seniors at risk. Keep their house or apartment as cool as possible. Keep shades or blinds closed when possible. When possible, limit stove or oven use to reduce heat. Open the windows when the temperature drops in the evening . If your senior loved one qualifies, they can obtain air conditioner(s) from New York, through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). You can visit their website to check their eligibility.
Seniors can spend the hottest part of the day at a mall, library, or the movies. Libraries are free to spend time at. They also provide free wi-fi, access to computers, and books. Senior centers, churches, or schools may offer community cooling center services. Check your local newspapers and city websites to find the nearest location.
Dressing for the Summer
Be sure your elderly family members are wearing loose-fitting, comfortable clothing in natural fabrics. Exercise can wait for cooler weather as well as all outdoor activities. Avoid crowded places with poor ventilation and airflow. When possible, help your loved one stay in the shade. If they cannot be in the shade, advise them to wear a sun hat.
Cool showers can help beat the heat. If your loved one requires assistance in the shower, consider installing grab bars, and/or getting a shower chair. Additionally, sponging with cool water can also be an easy way to beat the summer heat.
Protecting Elderly Loved Ones from Extreme Summer Heat
Overall, the simple precautions above can help your loved one avoid heat-related illnesses. Be prepared by listening to the weather reports, including humidity levels which also can be harmful to the elderly. Losing electrical power during heat waves is common. Having a plan in place for extreme weather conditions and being prepared for power outages will alleviate stress for you and your loved one. Be sure to have emergency supplies available in the event of extreme heat conditions. This includes items for their pets. Call on your elderly loved ones two times per day as well as a check in with elderly neighbors to be sure everything is OK. Keeping elderly loved ones safe is a priority all year round. Avoid extreme summer heat issues with a little preparation.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services does not provide medical, healthcare, or financial advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services has been providing excellent home care on Staten Island since 1967. Our services help the elderly and disabled live safely and independently; while giving their families the peace of mind they need. For more information contact us by clicking here, or call (718)-979-6900.