You may be surprised to learn that more deaths are caused by heat waves than all other weather events combined in the United States. The population most at risk from a heat-related event is senior citizens aged 65 years and older, with the majority of emergency room visits and fatalities occurring in this age group.
As global weather patterns change, studies show that the amount and duration of heat spells is also increasing. When these facts are coupled with increased longevity, one could surmise heat-related events will continue to increase. Here are four tips to help caregivers prevent heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke in seniors.
The hottest part of the day can vary depending on where you are located in the country as well as other variables such as cloud cover and time zone. Not surprisingly, summer temperatures in the Deep South and the American Southwest tend to be much higher than New England or the states surrounding the Great Lakes. In general, however, the hottest part of the day during the summer months is from noon until about 4:30 p.m.
While getting a moderate amount of sunshine each day is good for Vitamin D production—a vitamin many seniors lack—and for improving the overall mood, it is safer to get outdoor time during cooler parts of the day. This is especially true for those with cardiovascular disease since the body is already stressed. Caregivers should schedule activities with the time of day in mind.
Choose Activities Carefully
It's not uncommon for active senior citizens to enjoy spending time on the golf course. Unfortunately, the golf course provides little opportunity for readily-accessible shade. Spending hours under the sun can quickly cause dehydration, which in turn can set the stage for heat exhaustion, the precursor to heat stroke. While socializing and staying physically active is important to life satisfaction, activities like golf are better left for cooler days.
Doctors estimate approximately three-quarters of Americans are walking around chronically dehydrated, and unfortunately, by the time the brain registers thirst, seniors are likely already dehydrated. Additionally, many common medications taken by older adults can exacerbate dehydration. Caregivers should never tire of reminding those in their care to drink water. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks should be avoided as they exacerbate dehydration.
Natural materials should be chosen over synthetic fabrics. Lightweight cotton and linen clothes in light colors are ideal. A lightweight cotton cardigan should be available for breezy summer days as seniors can also easily catch a chill. Sunbonnets and other wide-brimmed hats are also a must to keep the face and head shielded from the sun. Caregivers should also remember to help apply sunscreen to exposed areas.
For more information on how best to care for seniors, contact an assisted living center near you.Share
15 May 2019
When your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones need a bit of extra help, you want to ensure that they are getting the best care possible. That means you need to help them pick out the right nursing home or assisted living facility. On top of that, you need to understand other elements of elder care such as living wills, healthcare directives, power of attorneys, and related elements. This blog takes you through all of it. Just as your parents probably referred to a book once in a while to get tips on how to care for you when you were a baby, you may need some tips and guidance to take care of them. This blog is designed to fill that role.