Heat and the Elderly: How to Cope with the Dog Days of Summer

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Heat and the Elderly: How to Cope with the Dog Days of Summer

In a matter of a few days, it went from pleasant spring temperatures to immense heat and humidity – a complete 180. It’s safe to say that summer has officially arrived! In our previous post, we touched on Nature and Mental Health and how it impacts seniors . While this holds tremendous merit, it’s also vital that caretakers and family members know the shortcomings of heat and the elderly, specifically as related to heat stroke and exhaustion. There are a few simple precautions that can be implemented to ensure that your loved one can thoroughly enjoy all that summer has to offer!

  • Arrange Daytime Visits– The temperature maxes out during the mid-hours of the day. Stop by or arrange for a neighbor to check-in on your loved one during the heat of the day. Ensuring that they stay inside during 10am – 6pm is vital to their health. Schedule all appointments and run errands in the early hours or after dinnertime.
  • Adequate Hydration – Drink plenty of liquids! When it comes to heat related health issues, dehydration is the root of all evil. Make sure that your loved one drinks water, sports drinks, or juice throughout the day. Limiting alcoholic and caffeinated drinks is also important since they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Dress the Part – If your loved one opts to venture outside, make sure that they dressed properly. Light-colored, lightweight and loose-fitting clothes will help keep their bodies cooler. Sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats are best for ensuring that the sun stays off of their face.
  • Crank the Air Conditioning – Often, seniors don’t realize the actual temperature inside of their living spaces. Agree on a temperature that you both feel comfortable with and set the thermostat for them, if need be. If air conditioning isn’t an option, make sure that they have adequate fans and encourage them to spend time at a cool public place. The mall, library or movie theatre are all popular options.
  • Be Informed – Know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses. Symptoms such as; dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that your loved one could be suffering from a heat-related illness. It’s imperative that your loved one receives emergency care, immediately.

Although complications of heat-related illnesses can be serious, the benefits of spending time with Mother Nature certainly trump the concerns. The CDC offers additional information to help you navigate complications associated with heat and the elderly. Educating both yourself and your loved one is the best way to avoid any afflictions and ensure that summer can be enjoyed, safely. Happy June!


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