Many areas of the United States are currently undergoing a significant heat wave. The dog days of summer, the hottest and most sultry time of the season, are officially here.
As the thermostat continues to rise, it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to excessive heat can be dangerous for everyone, especially for people over 65.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults are more prone to heat stress for several reasons:
- They do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
- They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
- They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.
Here are six ways seniors can stay safe in the summer heat and humidity.
- STAY HYDRATED – As a general rule, you should take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of ounces of fluids. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50 ounces of water each day.
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY – Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothes, preferably made from cotton or other natural fabrics. Don’t forget the wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
- CHECK MEDICATION – Make sure spending time in the sun and heat will not cause negative reactions with prescribed medications.
- SLATHER ON THE SUNSCREEN – Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays, SPF 30 or greater. Apply at least 15-20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply throughout the day!
- AIR-CONDITIONING –If you live in a home without air conditioning, or your living space is hot, try to spend time during midday in a public place that has air conditioning, such as a shopping mall, movie theater, library, senior center, or a friend’s house.
There are many resources available to help. There are religious groups, senior centers, and the Area Agencies on Aging that provide cool places to stay in the summer. Search the Eldercare Locator to find services in your area. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) also provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs.
- STAY INFORMED – Be weather aware and be prepared when a major heat wave is predicted for your area. Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. To keep heat-related illnesses from becoming dangerous, remember to:
- Get out of the heat and into a cool, ideally air-conditioned place
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water
- Slow down and rest
It is important to remember that the temperature does not have to be high to put a senior at risk for heat-related illness. Home Helpers® Home Care is here to make life easier. Our Caregivers can provide companionship and rides to air-conditioned locations while our state-of-the-art monitoring technology can monitor the temperature inside the house. Home Helpers is the extended family when family can’t be there.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR SERVICES, CONTACT US TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE IN-HOME CARE ASSESSMENT OR FIND AN AGENCY NEAR YOU.