Summertime is when many of us spend time with friends and family. We take vacations, go swimming, explore the outdoors and go on picnics. If you’re a senior, your body may not regulate itself against the dangers of hot days so you need to be aware of the need to beat the heat and stay safe.
This list of tips for caregivers is something you can not only share with your aging loved ones, but you can also keep it as a handy list to help you notice any health changes your loved one may be experiencing.
These tips are especially important for those who live in the areas of the country that are experiencing triple digit temperatures as they are for those who live in areas of the country that may be faced with both heat and humidity.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is crucial to your overall health and well-being. Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration because their bodies don’t have the ability to conserve water. Also, when an individual is becoming dehydrated they are also less aware that they are thirsty. Dehydration also makes it difficult for your body to adjust to the heat. Make a note to drink water at least every thirty minutes and make it a habit -- even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Are you on any medications that will make you more susceptible to heat? If you’re not sure, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Some medications may not work as well if they are left out in the high temperatures; refrigeration may be in order.
- Turn on the air conditioning if you have it, a fan if you don’ Even small changes in temperatures can have a detrimental impact on a senior, especially one with chronic medical conditions. If your home isn’t air conditioned, you may want to get out of the house -- perhaps head to a mall or senior center. This will have a double effect -- getting you out of the house and helping keep you cool! Set up fans in opposite corners of the room to help circulate the air.
- If you’re a caregiver and if your parents live alone, you will want to make certain you keep in touch with them. Call, visit, ask a friend or other family member to check in and make certain they are all right.
- Prepare for emergencies. Either post a list of emergency phone numbers by the phone or give your aging loved ones a home medical alert system. A personal medical alert device means that all they have to do is press a button to gain access to medical assistance.
- Dress for the weather. If it’s warm outside, wear cotton as it usually feels cooler than other fabrics. Wear loose fitting, light colors so you are more comfortable. If you go outside, wear sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen.
- Exercise in the cool parts of the day. If you’re active, make certain you are outside during the coolest parts of the day. If you have a garden, take care of your outside tasks early in the day or later in the afternoon when the sun is not at its highest.
Know the signs of hyperthermia:
Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia and can be life-threatening. Here are some of the symptoms of hyperthermia to be watchful for:
- If your body temperature is higher than 104 degrees
- Changes in behavior that include confusion, agitation or anger.
- Dry, flushed skin
- Rapid pulse
- Heavy breathing
- Not sweating even when the weather warrants it
If you notice any of these signs in yourself, your parents or your spouse, it’s critical that you seek medical assistance.