Many parts of the country are experiencing bouts of record heat this summer – and some of the drier, more arid regions can be dangerous for anyone, especially older adults.
When exposed to conditions of intense heat, older loved ones are more susceptible to things like heat-exhaustion, cardiovascular disease and stroke. And statistics show that almost 200 Americans die each year because of health problems resulting from heat and humidity – many of which are 50 years or older.
But seniors are not completely defenseless against the sun’s sweltering heat rays. It just takes a little bit of thought and a good deal of planning to ensure the safety of your loved one during the hot, summer months.
Freedom Home Care lists a few things below you and your senior can do:
Help Prevent Hyperthemia
Hyperthemia occurs when the body’s temperature gets too high – a condition that happens all too often with older adults.
When the heat index increases, our bodies start to perspire in order to cool down. Perspiration evaporates in order to help the cooling process. For most people, the body is then able to regulate its own temperature. But for many older loved ones, their bodies have more difficulty with this process, making them more susceptible to heat stroke.
When hyperthemia sets in, it can cause a number of different symptoms including dry, flushed skin, headache, nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse, heavy breathing, fainting and a change in behavior.
Prevent Hyperthemia By:
- Walking or exercising during the coolest parts of the day
- Finding a nice, shady area to sit outside
- Wearing clothes with breathable materials – like cotton
- Staying indoors, when possible
Try to find indoor activities that your senior enjoys like playing puzzles or board games, hosting a meal, painting, drawing or making crafts.
Go to the movies, mall or library where its air conditioned. Spending time in public places also helps combat boredom or loneliness.
Drink Less Caffeine
Although caffeine has become a daily habit for many people, it does have its drawbacks when over-consumed. Caffeine is like a diuretic, causing dehydration for older loved ones. It’s a good idea to drink liquids that can help replenish fluids, like water. Clear liquids combat dehydration. So make sure your senior has plenty when it’s hot out.
For seniors, connectedness is an important part of daily life. It’s easy for older loved ones who live by themselves to experience loneliness and isolation. In times of extreme heat, be sure to keep in touch with your senior to ensure their safety. Enlist friends, neighbors or other family members to help keep an eye on your loved one when you can’t be there. This is especially true if they are suffering from a chronic health condition and may not be receiving in-home care or personalized elder care from a professional.