Summer is a great time to go outdoors. For most of us, summer means gardening, barbecues, and relaxing in the backyard. But the heat can pose a threat, especially to people aged 65 and older. Research shows that 36% of heat-related deaths happen amongst seniors . Excessive heat is bad for everyone but seniors are specifically more vulnerable during the hot summer.
Why Is Hot Weather a Problem for Seniors?
As people age, their bodies change. Too much sun is a problem for several reasons:
- Bodies of older adults cannot adjust easily to sharp changes in temperature
- The body loses its ability to conserve water
- The presence of chronic illnesses can change how the body responds to heat
- Certain medications can inhibit the body’s natural cooling mechanisms i.e. sweating
Here are a few tips to help seniors stay safe during summer.
Hydration – Drink Up!
Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration. On top of that, they may not even realize that they are thirsty. Remind them to drink a lot of water. Seniors should also avoid caffeine as it acts as a diuretic. There are apps seniors can use that gently remind them to drink water frequently.
Everyone loses essential salts through sweating. So if you’re seriously dehydrated, just water might not help. You need to replace the salts your body has lost. Drink liquids that have salt and potassium to regain that balance.
Sunscreen and sunglasses
It is hottest during midday and afternoon. As such it is better to avoid going outside during this time. When you do go out, however, it is important to use screen. Senior skin is even more sensitive to UV rays, so don’t forget this essential aid.
Sunglasses are also a must to protect your eyes. Many older adults already have compromised vision. It’s best to use sunglasses to reduce further harm.
When it comes to clothes, loose-fitting items in a natural fabric are best for the summer heat. Many seniors prefer cotton over synthetic fibers as it helps them stay cool. Wear clothes that cover skin to limit exposure to UV rays. Hats are also a good idea to protect your head and hair from the harsh sunlight.
Consult Doctor about Medication
Encourage residents to talk to the doctor about medication. Certain medicines lose their effectiveness due to high heat. The last thing you want is to trigger a medical condition because the medication was not stored properly.
Similarly, some medicines can affect how your body responds to temperature changes. Quite a lot of drugs have dehydration as a side effect. Naturally, it gets worse during the summer. Stay alert for any changes in your body and talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
How Can You Help Your Residents Stay Cool?
The best thing you can do to help your residents during the summer is to be prepared. Cōv’s life-safety technology make use of health and safety technologies to keep tabs on community members. It is better to have a resident doctor or nurse on call in case someone gets seriously dehydrated. Make sure all residents have quick and easy access to emergency services.
While 911 is always an option, sometimes seniors may be unable to call for help. Ensure you have alert buttons or pull cords for all residents. This way, they can send a distress signal even if they can’t reach the phone.
Send Notifications and Reminders
Older adults may forget to take medication or stay hydrated. Make sure to send periodic notifications about staying hydrated, keeping up with medication, and consulting medical help. You can also send out mail with summer safety tips to all residents as a gentle reminder.
Organizing Indoor Activities
Most senior communities have a common space for activities and parties. Organize the events for your residents, especially in the evenings. This gives them something to do and an excuse to socialize without going outside in the heat. It’s best if the place has air conditioning, as it helps everyone stay cool.
Help Seniors Stay out of the Kitchen
Who wants to turn on the stove and cook in the hot summer months? Help your residents avoid the kitchen with meal catering services. Instead of hot food, go for dishes like cold salads with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sandwiches and fruit smoothies are also great ideas for the hot summer.
With record-breaking temperatures this summer, family members of your residents will be especially concerned about their health and safety. Show them that you are prepared to help your residents get through the heat. Use the latest technology and some basic tips to keep your residents cool and safe in the summer! With a bit of forethought and planning, everyone can enjoy the warm months without side effects.