High temperatures can make even the most sun-loving adults feel nauseous and fatigued, but for elderly adults, exposure to extreme heat can be much worse, even deadly. That said, there are plenty of ways senior citizens can beat the heat and enjoy summer activities. Here are essential summer safety tips for seniors.
1. Service HVAC
If your home has HVAC, now is the time to call in the pros for your annual AC inspection, cleaning, and needed repairs. HVAC systems that are well-maintained are less likely to break down under high demand, and they’ll offer the greatest energy efficiency and performance, as well.
For seniors that live in areas where AC systems aren’t common, it’s best to ensure safe access to cooler basement areas, as well as install fans or even window, wall, or portable air conditioners.
2. Stay hydrated
The summer heat can certainly make you sweat, so it’s important to up the ante on hydration during the summer months, even if you spend most of your time in air-conditioned buildings. If you already drink the recommended eight glasses a day, try adding a couple more to compensate for the summer heat. This will help you to avoid unpleasant symptoms of dehydration, and perhaps heat stroke.
3. Block the sun
Heat stroke and sunburn are very real concerns for seniors, but there are plenty of ways to avoid them. In the home, you might consider adding energy film to windows to reduce the heat-producing rays coming in (as well as increase energy efficiency). When you head outdoors, wear lightweight, protective clothing, hats, and plenty of broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunblock, as well as sunglasses.
4. Exercise early
Many seniors remain active into their twilight years as a way to maintain health and fitness and keep energy levels high. Unfortunately, the summer heat can put a damper on outdoor activities like jogging, walking, and sports like tennis and golf, for example. What can you do?
Exercising early is a great idea, so try to get up and out before the heat of the day takes hold. You can also consider changing up your routine in the summer by getting a gym membership (to take advantage of an air-conditioned interior), or hitting up the local pool for a few laps or a water aerobics class that cools you down.
5. Skip the hot shower
Hot water is nice for muscle relaxation, but during the summer, cold water is a much better means of beating the heat. Consider a cool shower or bath any time you’re starting to feel too hot.
6. Properly store medication
The heat can have a negative effect on certain medications, so it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor or pharmacist when the temperature starts to rise. You may need to move some medications to the fridge or a cool area of the home (like the basement) to avoid spoilage and reduced effectiveness.
7. Know the signs of heat stroke
When the thermostat rises, it’s natural to feel flushed and perhaps even suffer fatigue, headache, and nausea, but these could also be signs of heat stroke, especially when paired with symptoms like dizziness, confusion, high body temperature, and a surprising lack of sweat. It’s important to recognize the signs of heat stroke and call for help immediately if you suspect this dangerous condition.
8. Keep emergency numbers handy
Everyone know how to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency, but you should also keep a list of other numbers you might need when the summer heat strikes, including your local fire department, your local hospital, your doctors, your insurance provider, your vet (if you have pets), and family members that will need to be notified if you take ill (for emergency personnel arriving on-scene).
9. Check in with loved ones
If you’re a senior living alone and you don’t have frequent visitors, it’s a good idea to set up a schedule of regular check-ins with loved ones. This way, if they don’t hear from you in a timely manner, they can call you, swing by to check on you, and perhaps provide swift assistance in cases where you’re unable to call for help on your own.
10. Hire help
Cleaning, gardening, and even cooking in the heat can be a lot harder for seniors, so you might want to hire some help during the summer months. In-home health services are also a good option for seniors that require medical care.
Hiring professional help can not only alleviate the need to head out in the summer heat for medical services, but it also means that a professional healthcare provider is checking in daily, perhaps allowing you the opportunity to remain in your home rather than moving in with a family member or relocating to an assisted living facility of some sort. Summer heat can prove disastrous for seniors, but with proper planning and services, seniors can remain safe, healthy, and well year-round.
To remain at home, many seniors simply need help with daily activities such as bathing, preparing meals, light housekeeping, and transportation. Hiring home care services can allow your loved one to stay living in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. Contact Family Matters In-Home Care for a free consultation to see how we can help support your family.