When temperatures and humidity rise, the staff at From The Heart Elder Care go on alert. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to serious health complications from hot weather, including heat exhaustion, heatstroke, sunburns and dehydration. The following are some valuable tips on how to keep seniors safe and comfortable during the summer months:
Use an air conditioner to keep rooms cool. If air conditioning is unavailable, open windows on opposite ends of the house or building to cross-ventilate and increase air flow.
Regularly attend to individuals who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses, including elderly with heart, circulatory and pulmonary conditions. Many medicines, including those used for heart conditions, depression and allergies, also can make a person more sensitive to heat stress.
Ensure that seniors are wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that allows the body to release heat.
A senior should always wear sun block when going outside, even if for a short period of time. Apply sunscreen one-half hour before heading outdoors. Not all clothes protect against sun exposure, so apply sunscreen liberally to all exposed areas, including under the sleeves and collar of a shirt or blouse.
Wearing a hat that shades the face and covers the head is advised when spending time outdoors. Seniors who are sensitive to the sun should also cover their legs and refrain from wearing shorts.
Seniors should always wear their sunglasses outdoors. Remember that the eyes of a senior take a longer time to adjust from light to dark. When going indoors, a senior should take off his or her sunglasses before entering the building to prevent an accident. It also is a good idea for a senior to pause for several moments once inside the door, so that his or her eyes will have time to adjust to the diminished light.
One of the most important pieces of advice is that seniors should drink plenty of liquids during the hot summer months to make up for the loss of fluids due to sweat. Dehydration is a dangerous problem that can easily lead to hospitalization and become life-threatening to an elderly person.