In many parts of the country, high temperatures during the summer months are nothing new. However, when the weather reports notify people of an approaching heatwave, it can trigger a number of health-related issues in the elderly. If you are a family caregiver with an aging loved one and are facing a heatwave soon, you should do everything you can to prepare for it.
Here are 5 ways to prepare elderly loved ones for a heat wave:
1. Make the Rooms as Cool as Possible
The best time to check that fans, air conditioners and other cooling devices are working properly is well before a heat wave strikes. There should be some things to help seniors stay cool and in touch in case the power does go, like a hand-held fans, a flashlight, extra bottled water and more. A lot of heat can enter a home via the windows, so a good thick curtain on south and west-facing windows can help.
2. Reduce Activity and Strain
Conserve energy and don’t let an elderly person’s body heat up by encouraging them to stay indoors and just relax during a heat wave. Avoid exercise and going outside in the heat of the day. If there are any appointments or visitations lined up for the heat wave, they may need to be postponed. Avoid running big appliances like washers, dryers and dishwashers because that can also heat up the house. Getting into hot cars can also cause heat exhaustion in your elderly loved one very quickly.
3. Meal Planning and Preparation
It’s a good idea for seniors to eat several small meals throughout the day during a heat wave rather than three big meals. The body burns off a lot of calories after a big meal, raising the internal temperature. Small meals don’t make the body work as hard, therefore keeping them cooler. On the other hand, seniors should drink as much water as they can throughout the day, even if they aren’t feeling thirsty. This will help them fight off dehydration and let the body thermoregulate more efficiently.
4. Dress Appropriately
Seniors should wear loose, light-colored clothing that is made of breathable fabrics. If they are wearing something that is tight and heavy, the body’s natural cooling process could be affected. Let home care aides and family members that may help your elderly loved one dress know about the clothing preference. For additional cooling power, get a supply of packaged hand wipes so they can wipe down their neck and arms occasionally. The water and chemicals evaporating from off the skin will provide instant cooling relief.
5. Learn About Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
Seniors can go from feeling fine to suffering from heat exhaustion and heatstroke very quickly. If your elderly loved one is sweating a lot and complaining of headaches, muscle aches, dizziness, disorientation, and rapid breathing and pulse, it may be time for medical attention due to problems
related to the heat.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Ralston, NE, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors® Greater Omaha at (402) 215-0308 today.