As we move into the dog days of summer, many of us are looking forward to the hot weather. But hot weather can be difficult or even dangerous for seniors. Seniors have a higher risk of overheating and heatstroke because their bodies simply don’t adjust to the changes in temperature as well as they once did.
In fact, according to the CDC, in the US, seniors accounted for 36% of heat-related deaths. Part of the reason is that seniors are also more likely to be dehydrated, which further increases their risk.
The following are a few tips to help seniors stay cool and safe during the summer months:
- Install an air conditioning unit in their home or room. If they already have a unit, make sure to keep up with regular maintenance and inspections so you don’t have to deal with a sudden breakdown on a hot day.
- If having an air conditioner is not an option, bring your senior loved one to a cool location during the hottest part of the day. This might include a shopping mall, library, or a friend’s house.
- Encourage your senior loved ones to drink plenty of water throughout the day and not wait until they are thirsty to do so. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine can also help them stay hydrated.
- Use a cool damp washcloth on the back of their neck to help them stay cool.
- Have them dress in layers of lightweight clothing. This will make it easier to adjust to the temperature as they can easily add or remove layers as necessary.
- When going outside, ensure that your senior loved one is wearing sunscreen as it can protect them from harmful UV rays.
A word of caution about electric fans
Although electric fans can feel good on a hot day, they can trick the body into feeling cooler than it really is. This can end up doing more harm than good. For this reason, the CDC only recommends using an electric fan when temperatures are below the low 90s(F) – or below the low 30s(C). When temperatures exceed that level, it is better to use a cool bath or an air conditioner to cool down.
Finally, if your senior loved one is showing signs of overheating, contact their doctor or 911 immediately to seek the medical attention they need.
Stay safe and we hope you enjoy the summer!