Monday, July 16, 2012

Tips for Keeping Senior Loved Ones Safe in the Heat

Heat kills more Americans in a typical year than any other weather disaster - more than hurricanes, tornadoes, fires or any other – according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, we have already seen at least 30 people die in the heat wave that has gripped much of the U.S. to kick off Summer 2012. As in most years, senior adults make up most of those deaths, a fact driving Senior Care Corner to offer tips for keeping senior loved ones safe in hot weather.
Seniors are most often hit hardest by hot weather because their systems often don’t adjust as well to extreme changes in temperature as do those of people who are younger. On top of that, many are taking medications or have medical conditions that affect their ability to cope with temperature changes, which is compounded because they often don’t recognize thirst and can quickly become dehydrated in the heat, compounding their illness. This makes it most important to plan ahead to protect older adults who are aging in place during periods of very hot weather for their location, especially for family caregivers who live at a distance.
“The most important part of planning is assuring senior loved ones ride out extreme heat in air conditioning” says Barry Birkett of Senior Care Corner. “If their home is not air conditioned we need to arrange to get them to the home of someone who is or a location such as a mall where they can relax out of the heat.”
Planning Ahead to Protect Seniors from Severe Heat

If their home has air conditioning, make sure it’s in good working order with regular inspections to minimize the risk it will quit on the hottest day.

Make sure senior loved ones use the air conditioning when they have it. Financial strains have driven many to cut back, but keeping the A/C off on the hottest days can be deadly.

For those living in homes without air conditioning, agree on plans for them to go to a location that has it, including arranging in advance for transportation when needed.

Stress upon them the need to drink a lot of cool, nonalcoholic beverages –especially water - in the heat, even if not thirsty.

Check in on senior loved ones who are aging in place at least twice a day in extreme heat, even if they have air conditioning. Talking on the phone may not be sufficient to determine if they are suffering from the heat, so those living at a distance may want to arrange in advance for Skype video calls.
Taking these precautions won’t guarantee senior loved ones stay safe from heat-related illness or worse, but they will improve the chances they won’t become one of the summer statistics.
About Senior Care Corner

Senior Care Corner (on the web at provides solutions, information and tools to family caregivers and others who care for and about senior adults to help them improve the lives of the seniors in their lives. Their blog, biweekly podcast and bookstore address a wide variety of topics family caregivers can use to better understand the wants and needs of their senior loved ones.

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