How to make sure your senior loved one is healthy during the summer months
As the summer heat intensifies, it is crucial to pay special attention to the well-being of our elderly loved ones. Already this summer we’ve seen record high temperatures/temperatures as high as 93 °F. The elderly are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses and complications, making it essential to take proactive measures to keep them safe and comfortable during the warmer months. In this blog post, we will discuss five practical tips to ensure the safety and health of your elders during the summer season.
1. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is vital for everyone, it becomes even more critical for seniors because they are more prone to dehydration. As we get older, our sensors for thirst and hunger decrease. That means elders don’t feel the urge to drink or eat and need intentional reminders to stay hydrated and nourished during the summer heat. You can set up routines that support and encourage your elderly loved ones to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day, even if they don't feel thirsty. Offer them water, fruit juices, and other hydrating beverages frequently. Keep a water bottle near them to remind them to sip water regularly. It can also help to avoid consumption of beverages that contribute to dehydration like caffeinated or alcoholic drinks.
2. Dress Appropriately
Choosing the right clothing can significantly impact the comfort level of older individuals during the summer. Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight fabrics such as cotton or linen, which allow for better air circulation and sweat evaporation. Light-colored clothing reflects sunlight and helps to keep the body temperature cooler. We can also encourage our elders to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when going outdoors to protect their skin and eyes from harmful UV rays.
3. Create a Cool Environment
Ensure that your elder's home remains cool and comfortable. An air conditioner or fan can help maintain a suitable indoor temperature. If they do not have air conditioning, try setting up a visit to an air-conditioned location, like a mall or community center, during the hottest parts of the day. Some communities even establish community “cooling centers” during heat waves. You can also keep curtains or blinds closed during peak sunlight hours to minimize heat infiltration. If possible, create a shady spot in the backyard where they can relax and enjoy fresh air without direct exposure to the sun.
4. Be Mindful of Outdoor Activities
Physical activity is essential to the health and well-being of your loved one and it’s crucial to do these activities at the right time to prevent overheating and sunburn. Schedule walks, gardening, or other outdoor exercises during early mornings and evenings while it’s still cool out. Remind or assist your elders to apply sunscreen with a high SPF before going outdoors and reapply it every few hours. Take your time while walking and take frequent breaks in the shade. Also, bring water along during these activities to make sure you both stay hydrated.
5. Regular Check-Ins and Assistance
Check-in regularly with your loved one during the hot summer months, especially on the really hot days. When you can, go over and visit them and support them with household chores or errands that may expose them to extreme heat. Or help them do their errands during cooler parts of the day. Make a plan with your family so that everyone can take turns checking in and helping out. Consider sharing this article with your family by group chat as a way to get the ball rolling! It can help to have a point person to check in with your elderly loved one daily. This could be a single person or a job that rotates weekly. You’ll find the rhythm that works best for you!
If you feel you need additional support with taking care of your elder, consider finding a caregiver or a community support service to provide additional assistance. We at Cooperative Home Care Associates can provide that support to make sure your loved one is looked after during the summer months and beyond. As an employee-owned company, caregivers are also the owners of our home care business and, as owners, quality care is our top priority. Reach out to learn more about how we can support you and your loved one.
The best thing we can do to make sure our elders are safe during the summer is to be proactive. By following these five tips, you can make sure that your elderly loved ones stay hydrated, comfortable, and protected from the dangers of excessive heat. Remember to stay vigilant, communicate regularly, and incorporate these tips as they work best for you. With your care and attention, you can help make the summer season a safe and enjoyable time for your elders!