When the sun is out, so are many seniors. There’s plenty of fun to be had in the summer months but caregivers and their seniors also face unique risks. According to the CDC, around 31% of weather-related deaths in the US are due to heat related issues. Seniors, especially those with cardiovascular issues, are at increased risk of health problems resulting from heat exposure. Caregivers and seniors can stay cool using these tips:
Pay Attention to Heat Wave Reports
When you check the weather, pay attention to reports of heat waves. A combination of humidity and temperature, heat waves can dangerously affect the body temperature. There are three progressive levels of heat wave indicators to look for; Excessive Heat Watch, Excessive Heat Warning and Heat Advisory.
A heat watch indicates that the heat wave may be swelling up, increasing the risk of heat-related health problems. At this point, relocate any outdoor plans you have for the next two days to the indoors. Heat warnings indicate a heat wave is imminent. Seniors should prepare for outages and being homebound for a few days. Once a heat advisory is issued, seniors need to stay inside cool buildings and drink plenty of water. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/heat-wave-safety#Treat-Heat-Related-Illness
One of the best ways to prevent heat-related health problems is simply to stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine, which actually dehydrates the body. Drink 8 glasses of water, fruit juice and even healthy sport drinks to stay cool and filled up with needed fluid.
Protect Your Skin
You’re never too old to suffer from sunburn. Protect your skin against sunburn and even skin cancer simply by applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Wear hats and light clothing too.
Find Cool Places to Spend Time
Air conditioning enables people to enjoy summer comfortably and safely. Some states offer low income citizens, including seniors, financial assistance paying energy bills. Another option for staying cool indoors is vising places with air conditioning like senior centers, movie theaters or local libraries.
Avoid Unnecessary Heat Sources
Don’t add heat to everyday living when it’s already hot outside. Take lukewarm or cool showers or baths. Eat cold meals or room temperature foods. Seek transportation help instead of waiting outside for public transit.
Dress for Summer Weather
Light, airy clothing is best in the heat. Tight, dark, thick clothing can be problematic. To ensure comfort in air condition and outdoors, dress in easy to remove layers.
Recognize Signs of Heat-Related Emergencies
Being able to spot the signs of heat-related emergency can save a life. Caregivers and seniors should pay attention to symptoms like:
- Lack of sweat
- Weakness or cramping
- Stomach problems or nausea
- Quickened heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing or shallow breathing
Signs like these can be indicators of dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. If you notice these symptoms, take steps to cool off quickly and seek medical attention. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/heat-exhaustion#1-2
Know How to Get Cool Quickly
If someone is overheated or begins to show signs of heat-related health problems, get them cool quickly. Getting cool can prevent overheating from becoming a medical problem or reduce the severity of heat-related emergency. https://familydoctor.org/condition/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/
- Get out of the heat and into a cool space, or at least the shade
- Remove excess clothing including shoes and socks
- Lie down and elevate the legs
- Apply cool, wet towels in wrists and forehead or take a cool bath
- Drink fluids, such as water or a sports drink
- Do not drink fluids with caffeine or alcohol