Summer can mean many fun things: longer days, family reunions and ice cream. But for older adults, it can also have its challenges. Seniors do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature, including transitions from summer heat to air conditioning They are also likely to have a chronic medical condition or take medications that make it more difficult for their bodies to self-regulate temperature. In fact, a study from the University of Chicago Medical Center found that 40 percent of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. are among people over 65.
In order to ensure that summer fun does not lead to illness, hospitalization or worse, it is important to take extra precautions, including:
• Water Wise: Dehydration is a huge problem for older adults, especially in the warmer months. The general rule for everyone is eight glasses of water a day. However, because seniors may have medications or conditions that factor into dehydration, it’s best to consult with a doctor about the correct amount.
• Sun Safety: Avoiding the outdoors during the hottest times of day (typically between about 3-5 p.m.) is ideal, but anytime an older person — or anyone else, for that matter — is in the sun, they should be wearing proper protection including sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 – or 50 if they will be active outside; UV sunglasses, a sun hat and loose fitting, lightweight clothing.
• Cool Air Acts: Making sure curtains or blinds are closed during the day will help keep the home cooler. Some seniors try to save money by keeping the air conditioner off, but we highly recommend avoiding this.
• Watch for the Signs: During intense heat waves, it’s important to monitor older adults for signs of dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems. If any of these occur, the senior should seek medical attention immediately.
For more information on the health and well-being of seniors and those who care for them, please contact our office at 586-1516.
Julie Ann Soukoulis 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 own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’s love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.