Summertime, and the living is easy…Maybe? For the elderly this season could create for serious health problems. During the summer, the older adults are at an increased risk due to high temperatures and the humidity. Seasonal heat waves are dangerous and deadly, so it is critical we are mindful as caregivers and those with elders under their care to pay attention. Temperatures 80-degrees or more can cause dehydration, lethargy, and weakness…all signs of a bigger problem.
You may ask; what is a heat wave? Heatwaves are a continuation of three or more days of hot temperatures. When you add the humidity, the potential problem becomes magnified and deadly.
What is the best way to avert older adults from developing health challenges from high temperatures is to think proactively. We can prevent our loved-ones from heat related problems by intentional consideration to local weather reports. Meteorologists do an excellent job forecasting the weather. Paying attention to weather reports is a proactive step that can prevent heat related challenges.
I have learned to never assume all environments are created equal. What do I mean by this? All households do not have central air or air condition window units. Checking on our seniors, especially is they live alone, is necessary. Here are a few suggestions to guide you. By no means is this list exhaustive, but it will offer a great start. During hot weather, providing a cool environment is necessary for older adults. Here are some simple, but important nuggets to consider:
· Stay hydrated( ensure extra fluids do not exacerbate chronic health conditions)
· During the peak of the day, stay indoors with blinds closed
· Public air-conditioned place may be an option
· Fan place in different directions in the home can help(remember if the temperature inside of the home is too hot, fans are not an option)
· Taking cool showers or wet towels around the neck can decrease body temperature
· Light-colored, loose fitting comfortable clothing
· Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeinated drinks
Keep in mind that sweating is the body’s way to decrease the temperature, but it is also a source of fluid loss. This can lead to Heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Both can be very serious. If older adults are experiencing weakness, confusion, malaise, seek medical attention. Ongoing symptoms care lead to brain damage and damage to vital organs.
Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate is asking you to be proactive and preventive. Lets’ keep our seniors safe during hot temperatures.