Hot weather may be an enjoyable part of summer for most people, but it can be deadly for those who are unable to fully care for themselves.
The elderly are especially vulnerable when the temperature rises because their ability to notice changes in their body temperature decreases with age, and many seniors have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to the heat.
With that said, staying safe in hot weather conditions is simple if you follow these tips and take a few easy precautions.
The risk of hot weather
Seniors’ bodies have diminished ability to respond to extreme temperatures, and so maintaining ideal body temperature is harder for them.
This is compounded by some common medications seniors take, such as diuretics, allergy medicines, and nerve medications. (Some medicines also cause an increased sensitivity to the sun, so carefully read each label and know when to limit sun exposure!)
Seniors can experience heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as heart attacks, strokes, and other forms of health issues during the hotter months. Sadly, heat-related deaths peak during the summer season.
It is important that you learn to recognize symptoms of extreme heat as well as what can be done about them.
Symptoms of extreme heat
If you feel faint, weak, confused, and experience muscle cramps, you may be dehydrated. Sip cool water or a sports beverage. Sports drinks contain electrolytes, which the body loses while in a dehydrated state. Seek medical help if your loved one experiences these symptoms.
Heat exhaustion appears as sudden vomiting, a racing pulse, cold or clammy skin, paleness, dizziness, and nausea. The best thing to do if you suspect you have heat exhaustion is to move into the shade where it is cooler. Drink cold water and seek prompt medical attention.
The symptoms of heat stroke are similar to heat exhaustion, except it is much more serious. If you experience confusion, a high temperature, a racing heartbeat, and your skin appear red, hot, or dry you may be experiencing heat stroke.
Apply a cool washcloth or water to the wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck to lower the core body temperature. Drink water or an electrolyte based drink.
Always check the weather
Always check the weather forecast before making any outdoor plans. While it may be tempting to head outside in the morning to get a spot of gardening done, it also presents a risk as the temperature can rise more than you anticipate, increasing the risk of conditions such as heatstroke.
Pay particular attention to the heat index because it adversely impacts the body’s ability to cool itself off.
Stay indoors during mid-day hours
Run errands and participate in activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the extreme mid-day heat. Drink additional fluids while spending time outside and limit your activities if it is unusually hot.
Use air conditioning or fans
Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned spaces. Close blinds and curtains during the heat of the day and use fans to help keep your home cool. Head to the mall, library or the movies if your home doesn’t have air conditioning.
Dress for the conditions
Ensure you dress in clothing appropriate for the weather. The best choice is anything loose and light coloured because those items of clothing will reflect the sun’s intense rays as well as provide a bit of airflow around the limbs.
Always wear sun protection
Wear a wide-brimmed hat, UV-filtering sunglasses, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen anytime you are outside in the sun. Severe sunburns can take longer to heal in seniors and increase the risk of melanoma.
Use bug spray
The elderly are particularly prone to West Nile Virus. If you live in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, avoid going outside in the early evening. Use a mosquito repellant to reduce your risk and apply bug spray anytime you are outside.
Ensure you drink enough hydrating fluids and avoid beverages which may dehydrate you, such as coffee or wine. Snack on hydrating foods like watermelon and infuse water with strawberries, blueberries, cucumber or mint for a refreshing pick-me-up.
Keep the stove turned off
If possible prepare meals which limit using the stove. Instead enjoy salads, smoothies, and sandwiches to help keep you and your home cool.
Take lukewarm showers to help you cool down, or wet washcloths and place them on your neck, or on the top of your head to lower your body temperature.
Invest in peace of mind
If you feel like self-management is too much to handle, or if your loved ones have indicated they are struggling with their personal care, help is just a phone call away.
A friendly carer can assist you in all aspects of your daily living tasks, ensuring you stay perfectly comfortable during even the hottest of summer days. The ultimate peace of mind, homecare is the perfect choice for your loved ones this summer.
Contact us today to find out how we can help.