Hot Temperature and Senior Care

Extreme temperature is not safe for anyone. It is even dangerous if you are older or have health problems. It’s 100 degrees in Texas! LORDT HELP!

I watched a news story yesterday and decided it was a great story to share with my blog and podcast audience. The story was about individuals young and old waiting in line, outside a Social Security office for services. As I polled the people in line, my heart and mouth dropped. They were sitting, standing, and even lying down in the grass as they waited to get their turn inside to get help with benefits. Many had umbrellas trying to shield themselves from the sun. NEWS FLASH…no umbrella I know can shield you from the temperature or the humidity.

The line had a combination of ages, but what got my attention, of course, were the elderly people on canes, walkers, and wheelchairs waiting to get inside the office for services. It was been over 100 degrees in Texas! As one person stated “This is ridiculous. We’re human.” While the Social Security office offered no alternative solutions to waiting outside, other than calling the district and corporate office for a comment. The reason for long lines and long hold times on the telephone is staffing shortages and reduced budgets. Is this a consumer’s problem or an agency problem? That is a rhetorical question; I chose not to debate. There is nothing at any office where you must wait outside, in the heat, that is worth your health. Many individuals suffered from an array of health issues, as noted by virtual observation. My concern is for humankind and, here are my comments.

Caregivers, you are the advocate for your loved ones. Gauge the weather and temperature before traveling out to locations with your loved ones, especially where long periods of being outside may occur. Try to make an appointment. Also, get the name of who you spoke with, along with the confirmation.

Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related problems from an increase in body temperature. It is also vital that you know what medications are taken because heat-related problems can happen because of medications.

Be mindful of:

Heat exhaustion– warning that your body can no longer keep itself cool. You might feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, and nauseated

Heat syncope-sudden dizziness

Heat cramps –pain and tightening of muscles in body parts

Heat edema– swelling in your ankles and feet

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, know that hot weather can be deadly. Call 911 if you are in question. Do not wait! It is best to be safe than sorry. Be careful and proactive in every area of caring for our loved ones and care recipients when temperatures are recurrently hot.

Be Safe! Be Well!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and 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

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