Florida summers can be excessively hot and humid, placing those aged 65+ at higher risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This makes summer potentially dangerous for seniors. According to the CDC, over 600 Americans die every year from heat-related illnesses– including many elderly. If you’re an informal caregiver here are several ways to keep your aging in place loved one cool, hydrated and comfortable all summer long.
How Excessive Heat Affects the Elderly
The average senior is more susceptible to the heat because their body can’t cool down as effectively as it used to. Once they become overheated it also takes longer for their body to recover.
To make matters even worse some chronic medical conditions can affect how an aging adult responds to the heat. Certain medications can also interfere with a senior’s ability to regulate or adjust to changing temperatures, tolerate sun exposure or control perspiration.
Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most common heat-related illnesses. When you suspect that your loved one is experiencing either one, look for these telltale signs:
- Pale, cold or clammy skin
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive sweating
- Mild nausea or vomiting
- Hot, dry skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Body temperature of 104 degrees F. or higher
If not promptly addressed, heat stroke can be serious and deadly. When your loved one starts exhibiting any of its symptoms contact 911 immediately or rush them to the nearest hospital emergency department.
How to Keep Seniors from Overheating
Fortunately, most heat-related illnesses are preventable. Keeping seniors safe and comfortable on those hot summer days is possible by taking these steps:
Plan-ahead for outdoor activities
When heading to the local park, beach or pool with your senior make sure they wear cool, light colored, loose-fitting clothing, along with a cap or hat. Encourage them to stay in the shade and don’t forget to bring along a high SPF sunscreen (30+) that’s safe for aging skin.
Seek out air-conditioned places
If your loved one doesn’t have adequate home air conditioning, take them someplace that does, like a library, senior center, shopping mall or restaurant. Adding fans to their home will help keep it cool and the air circulated. Another idea is to plan social events in the well air- conditioned homes of friends and family members.
Ensure safe home ventilation
When feeling uncomfortable some seniors open their windows to introduce a cool breeze into the home- but that can cause security issues. Stop by the local hardware store and get some safety latches for your loved one’s windows. Find latches that allow the natural air to circulate while preventing the window from being completely opened from the outside.
Keep them hydrated
Serve your senior plenty of water while avoiding caffeine-containing beverages and alcohol. Better yet, encourage them to drink fluids that replace lost potassium and electrolytes, like sports drinks or less-expensive, homemade substitutes.
Dress for the temperature
When it’s hot, both of you should dress for the temperature. Wear loose, light-colored clothing that also limits sun exposure. Dress in lightweight, easily removable layers that can be adjusted when going from the outside into the air conditioning.
Watch them carefully
Even when taking all these precautions heat exhaustion can still occur. Be sure to constantly monitor your loved one’s behavior and appearance for signs of heat-related illnesses. If it looks like they may be getting heat stroke don’t take any chances.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
Protecting seniors during the summer heat can be hard when you’re not always there. Contact First In Care, and we’ll do the rest. While serving as an extended family in the home, our highly trained caregivers will be happy to keep your senior safe and comfortable so they can age in place right where they want to be. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency we use a unique caregiving approach that’s focused on maintaining your loved one’s dignity, independence and self-esteem.
Our full menu of home care services includes companionship care, personal care, respite care, medication reminders, transportation and even 24-hour care. To learn more now about our flexible programs and affordable rates, or to speak to a First In Care advisor about a senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit us now at: www.firstincare.com.