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Soaring temperatures carry serious risks for seniors if the proper precautions aren’t taken. With temperatures set to reach 90 degrees this week, here are some important tips for caregivers to help ensure your loved ones have a safe, enjoyable summer!
Summer Safety Tips For Seniors
Keep in touch! High temperatures can be life threatening, so communication is an important part of ensuring the safety of seniors. If your elderly loved ones do not live with you, be sure to check in with them at least twice a day during periods of high heat.
Stay hydrated! Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration because total body water decreases with age, and elderly adults don’t feel thirst as strongly as younger adults. Encourage seniors to drink small amounts of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated, but avoid sugary drinks, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages. Stick to water or electrolyte drinks. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps. Warning: If a senior generally limits the amount of fluid they drink due to doctors orders, or because they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much is safe for them to drink while the weather is hot.
Stay cool! Age, as well as chronic medical conditions and prescription medications, can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Help seniors stay cool with fans and air conditioners. When the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. If air conditioning isn’t available in the home, public libraries are great places to help seniors beat the daytime heat – they can grab a book and relax in air conditioned comfort. Senior centers and shopping malls are also great options. Or contact your local Area Agency on Aging to inquire about any programs available to help seniors with fewer resources get air conditioning units.
Dress for the weather! If seniors are going to be outdoors even for a short time, encourage them to wear hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting close are the best options to help them keep cool.
Restrict activities! If seniors will be outside enjoying activities such as walking or gardening, it is very important that they limit these activities to short periods of time, and preferably in the early morning or in the evening when the sun is not at its peak. They should also increase the amount of fluids they drink to account for the increased activity. Seniors should avoid all strenuous activities in high temperatures.
Stay nourished! Heat can have a negative impact on appetite, so it’s important to ensure that seniors are eating during the summer months. Preparing lighter meals, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can help stimulate the appetite during periods of high heat (be sure to observer any dietary restrictions).
Know the signs of heat stroke & heat exhaustion! Hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature, is very common in older adults in the summer. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be life threatening. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided, so it’s important to take seek medical attention immediately. Warning signs vary but may include the following:
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures, or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Signs and symptoms may vary, but may include the following:
Following these tips can help your elderly loved ones have a safe and enjoyable summer. And if you need a little assistance caring for your elderly loved ones, CareGivers Home Care is here for you! We can customize a care plan to meet your needs, contact us for your free home care assessment!