Heat’s a serious threat to seniors living alone
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By Julie Ann Anderson  July 4, 2014 12:00 am

Beating the heat is important to seniors who want to stay active. Sizzling summer temperatures can take a toll on any age, but seniors are particularly vulnerable when the temperatures skyrocket. Many older adults want to enjoy summer activities as much as anyone else. A few precautions can help them do just that.

Sometimes our older loved ones live alone and their closest relatives can be quite far away, leaving no one to physically check on them if you are concerned on how they are tolerating the heat. 

Temperatures this summer in Sonoma County can exceed 100 degrees on occasion, and you may be worried about their safety. 

They may be alert and healthy, but you know they love to go outdoors and garden or spend time outdoors. What can you do from wherever you live to protect them?

It’s important that seniors take care in the heat, but it doesn’t need to prevent them from doing the things they love. There are several reasons seniors are more susceptible to the heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

• Seniors do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.

 

• They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that upsets normal body responses to heat.

 

• They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

 

Sweltering summer heat can be brutal for an individual of any age, but it may be particularly dangerous for seniors. Please suggest to your loved ones that they consider the following tips for staying cool and safe:

• Keep a glass of water in every room to quickly and easily access fluids. Have them drink plenty of fluids, even if they don’t feel thirsty.

 

• Go through the closet and remove all heavy materials, long sleeves and dark colors. Store them until fall.

 

• Stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Fill up their bird feeder in the morning and water the lawn at night.

 

• Save household chores, particularly washing and drying clothes and operating the dishwasher, for evenings, when the weather is cooler. It will help with the PG&E bill, as well as keeping the home cooler in the event of rolling blackouts where the air conditioner may turn off for quite some time. In the event this should occur, invite them to your home ( if you are not affected) to come stay until the rolling blackout is over. Or go to the movies because they keep the A/C on in theaters, or try the senior center.

 

• Take a nap during high heat times – between 3 and 5 p.m., for instance – or find a good television program or movie to watch.

 

• While your loved one is napping or enjoying a movie, keep shades down and blinds pulled. Keeping a house tightly closed is more energy efficient.

 

• Put away that meat loaf recipe for the summer and track down new recipes for fruit and vegetable salads. High-protein foods increase metabolic heat production and water loss.

 

• Increased use of a central air conditioning system causes higher utility bills, so they may consider purchasing a fan or small window unit to cool the house at a lower cost. In fact, window fans provide an effective way to exhaust the day’s hot air during the night.

 

Being alone during steamy summer days is a risk in itself. Encourage your loved one to garden or spend time outdoors with a companion or friend. If your loved one doesn’t know anyone to do such activities, call the local Home Instead Senior Care office. 

The company makes every effort to match CAREGiversSM with seniors of similar interests. Someone near his or her own age could provide companionship during your loved one’s outdoor pursuits. Have a super amazing week and Happy Fourth of July everyone!

 

Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.

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