Seniors are especially at risk in high heat situations. Large stretches of the USA are experiencing extreme temperatures.
Here are some summer heat tips for helping elderly loved ones avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion
- Encourage fluid intake.* Water is best. Pick up some bottled water to keep in their fridge. It’s easy to grab and can help them track their water intake. Some fruit has a high water content (such as cantaloupe) is also helpful. Remind them that sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol act as diuretics so fluctuating those fluids with water is key.
- Make sure their air conditioning is working and turned on. Whether in an effort to cut expenses or because many older adults, especially those on blood thinners, get cold easily, they may not have their air conditioning turned on. However; they may not recognize that being in air-conditioning can help them avoid heat stroke/exhaustion. Explain the reasoning behind having the air on and then find them a sweater to wear in the house.
- If they do not have air-conditioning, consider going to a mall, movie theatre, museum or city cooling center. Another option is having them stay with a family member until the heat wave passes.
- Take a cool shower or bath, especially in the evening before going to bed.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that breathes.
- Discourage activities such as cooking/baking in the oven as well as thorough housecleaning during heat waves.
- If going outside, apply sunscreen and keep it on hand for re-application.
- Regularly check in on elderly relatives, friends and neighbors in person if possible. If you live far away, contact another relative or neighbor who can stop by and check on them.
Know the signs of heat stroke (i.e.: flushed face, high body temperature, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness and confusion) and take immediate action if you or your loved one is having any of these symptoms.