When temperatures rise in San Fernando Valley, it is time to pay even more attention to ensuring elderly loved ones stay safe. The summer heat affects everyone, but for seniors, this time of year holds special dangers. The elderly are extra prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke for several reasons. One reason is the elderly’s decreased ability to detect temperature changes. In addition, medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, make the body more susceptible to heat, as do certain medications. Here are some tips to consider for helping your elderly loved one cope with summer heat.
Hydration is Key
Keep cool water available at all times, and keep an eye on your loved one to make sure she is staying hydrated. Other beverages help, too, but caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee can dehydrate and speed heart rate, which can be dangerous in the heat.
Find Someone to Help
Choose a home care provider, such as Salus Homecare, so that a caring professional will be there to offer assistance with medical needs or light housework. Care providers can ensure seniors are keeping cool and can watch for signs of heat-related illnesses. These signs include nausea, shortness of breath, angina, dizziness, lightheadedness and palpitations or a rapid pulse.
Encourage the Elderly to Relax
Activity boosts body temperature. Encourage seniors to relax during hot weather, especially in the afternoons, and avoid all strenuous activities. Have someone else attend to household duties so the senior does not feel obliged to move around.
Keep Your Cool
If your elderly loved one does not have air conditioning at home, make sure they spend time in an air-conditioned environment during the hottest parts of the day. The body needs time to cool off as long as possible during hot weather. Contact senior centers and state social programs to see if they offer programs for seniors who need cool environments. These organizations may also be able to help if your loved one is worried about running an air conditioner due to high utility bills. Make sure seniors wear loose-fitting, light clothing whether they are at home or outside. If they do venture out, a wide-brimmed light-colored hat can help keep with keeping them cooler.
Heat-related illnesses can strike at unexpected times. On days when the skies are overcast and the temperature lower, some people assume there is less risk. However, the most important number to pay attention to is not the heat alone, but rather the heat index. This takes in other factors, such as humidity, and indicates how hot things actually feel. The problem with humidity is that when humidity is high the body is less able to cool down via sweating. In seniors, whose bodies may already have an inefficient natural cooling system, this can be exceptionally dangerous. Encourage your loved one to take things easy and to let you know if she is feeling uncomfortable at any time.
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