When you’re young, you cannot wait for summer. Vacation from school, endless days in the pool, going to see grandma and grandpa. Of course, some of your fondest memories revolve around the summer, they do for the elderly, too, but there is one crucial difference. The elderly cannot handle the summer heat as well as they could when they were younger. If you have a parent or grandparent living with your family, it’s important to bear in mind the following safety tips.
Turn Down the Heat
Excess heat puts everyone in danger, but those over 50 have an even harder time when the mercury rises. Even healthy people can succumb to heat stroke or other hot-weather related illness, and you’ve seen the news stories about athletes dying while in training camps. Age is one factor in a person’s ability to tolerate triple-digit temperatures, but other issues come in to play, as well.
For example, the National Institute on Aging reports that people with an existing blood vessel or heart trouble also have a hard time staying cool, as do those who suffer from kidney or lung disease. Those with fevers should stay out of the heat, and if your elderly loved one is on diuretics, high blood pressure, sedative, or other medication, he or she may have a hard time cooling off.
Hyperthermia and Heat Stroke
Hypothermia can kill people who are too cold; hyperthermia can kill people who are too hot. If your elderly loved one is in the heat too long, he or she may suffer from dizziness, cramping, edema (swelling) in the lower extremities, and/or heat exhaustion. Symptoms of the latter include cold and clammy skin, nausea, thirst, weakness, and coordination loss.
The NIA cautions that heat stroke is a medical emergency that should never be taken lightly. In fact, many elderly people who succumb to heat stroke live in a home where there is no air conditioning to combat the oppressive outdoor temperatures. This is why air conditioning experts, such as abc heating & cooling recommend a spring HVAC tune-up. This ensures the unit works effectively all summer long.
Other Protective Tips
Aside from indoor temperature control, how can you ensure your elderly person is cool enough throughout the summer swelter? The NIA offers wonderful advice to help your older family members beat the heat, and the first one is something everyone should do regardless of age: stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or juice. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
Keep the house cool with your air conditioning and add some fans to help circulate the cool air. Ceiling fans are wonderful for this. Close all window treatments during the day and avoid using the oven too much if possible. Head to the mall, movies, or another cool place if you cannot keep the home cool enough, and always make certain your elder loved one dress in cool clothing.
Summer is almost here, so it’s time to be hot weather smart. You’ve already made home improvements to increase the safety of your abode for your elderly loved one. Make certain the AC portion of your HVAC unit is ready to go and keep your entire family cool, hydrated, and inside during the day. Once the sun and temperature go down, head outdoors for a lovely summer evening.