Heat is a major health concern every summer in the U.S., and it’s no surprise that older adults are at a higher risk. This is due to the fact that as we age, our bodies aren’t as efficient in terms of regulating body temperature. In addition, seniors are not as quick to notice a change in temperature, the way a younger person might. As a caregiver, we need to stay proactive to avoid getting into an overheated situation. Here is our top 10 list for keeping seniors safe when the thermometer rises:
- Stay hydrated – Seniors may not notice that they are thirsty as quickly as a younger person. And with an older person’s body being less efficient, they are more likely to get dehydrated quicker – especially with summer heat. Keep your senior hydrated throughout the day. Fresh water is an obvious choice, but fresh fruits and fruit juices can be a big help as well. Avoid alcohol and caffeine (which tend to dehydrate the body).
- A/C – Run the air conditioning at the hottest part of the day and let cool air in during the late night and early morning. If your senior’s home does not have A/C, consider going on an outing during the hottest part of the summer day to a nice chilly movie theater, mall or other indoor activity.
- More Water. If you see your senior getting overheated, suggest a nice cool shower or bath to bring body temperature down.
- Cool Eats. Look for meal options that are cold such as salads and sandwiches, avoiding hot and heavy meals during the summer. Also – avoid using the oven as it tends to heat up the entire room and area.
- Lighten Up. Suggest to your senior that he or she dress in loose fitting clothing that is light in color and light in weight. (It’s great advice for caregivers, too!)
- Stay In. While it’s key to get out, avoid being outside in the hottest parts of the day. If you need to get some errands done or your loved one wants to be outside, look for opportunities in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Cool air. Purchase a small portable battery-operated fan (handheld size) that you can give to your senior to keep them extra comfortable during hot summer months.
- Spray it. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the fridge. It’s great for a quick cool-down after you are outside.
- Shade with shades. Too much time squinting and looking at the sun can irritate Keep a pair of sunglasses handy to protect your vision and keep the harmful UV rays away.
- Check in. While you or any caregiver may not be with your parent or senior friend every hot day, make sure you check in with him or her on a regular basis – especially when hot temperatures are coming. Help them prepare and encourage them to slow down activities planned for those days.
Other tips to beat the heat