Summer Safety: 5 Ways Caregivers Can Keep Seniors Healthy In The Heat
July 6, 2017
Summertime is a fantastic time of year! Well, for most people it is.
Unfortunately, for senior citizens, the heat and sun can be dangerous…even life-threatening.
If you are a caregiver to an elderly person, here are five ways you can proactively keep them healthy and comfortable throughout the summer months.
How to keep seniors healthy in the heat
1. Update your loved one of the weather
Retirement homes often post weather forecasts for their elderly residents — especially during extreme heat waves.
Likewise, make sure the senior in your life is aware of any weather patterns that may affect
them. This should be done, regardless of whether they have air conditioning or not:
If they have air conditioning, they may not be aware just how hot it is outside—leading them to be unprepared when they actually leave the house
If they don’t have air conditioning, you may want to help them make special arrangements for staying elsewhere during a heat wave
2. Have lots of water on hand
For a number of reasons, dehydration is very common in seniors. Untreated, it can lead to weakness, fatigue, hypotension, and other detrimental health conditions. Severe dehydration can even “trick” the brain into not properly adjusting to temperature changes and feeling less thirsty—a scary prospect when you consider that humans can only survive for about four days without fluids!
To keep seniors well hydrated during hotter days, retirement homes often put out extra water for its residences. You can do the same. For example:
Ensure your loved one’s fridge is stocked with water (a jug as well as bottles)
Keep water in close reach around other areas of the home too (like on their nightstand)—regardless of its temperature, it’s good to have water handy in case of an emergency
Encourage them to pack water for long summer drives or trips
Instruct them to drink specific amounts of water at regular times (if they have a smartphone, have them download a “water drink reminder” app)
3. Check up on them more often
High temperatures can cause heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. So—especially during those really hot days—be sure to keep the lines of communication open.
Encourage the senior in your life to let you know if they plan to spend extended periods of time outdoors—even if they’re only walking or gardening. Meanwhile, make an effort to call or drop in on them to ensure they’re taking proper care of themselves and staying hydrated.
4. Arrange for lighter meals
People often don’t like to cook in the summer months. That’s understandable—many folks don’t have the same level of hunger when it’s hot outside, and it’s not fun standing over a hot stove when you don’t have air conditioning. Still, it’s important to get in those nutrients, especially since seniors are prone to malnutrition.
The good news is that summer is a wonderful time for eating locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables—and there are tons of lighter meal options out there as a result. Help the person in your care to do grocery shopping and meal planning—even making arrangements for them to have small snacks throughout the day. (The Dietitians of Canada has some great suggestions for healthy eating for seniors!)
5. Cancel or postpone outings if necessary
The best retirement homes are the ones that put their residents first. Sometimes, that means having to cancel or postpone fun outings when it’s too hot outside. Likewise, if you’re planning an excursion with an elderly person in the summer, keep your eye on the forecast—and don’t be afraid to change up your plans if necessary. Meanwhile, encourage them to do the same if they’re venturing outdoors (without you) for a fun activity.
Make it a summer they’ll enjoy!
By being proactive about senior safety, you can increase the chances that your loved one will have a wonderful summer to remember.
Meanwhile, you will also have an opportunity to relax, having set the wheels in motion for their safety!