Summer may mean beaches, hikes and sunny days, but it’s also a time when many Americans have to endure heat waves that can prove to be dangerous, especially to older adults, who are more vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
So while you’re enjoying the beautiful weather, keep in mind that oppressive humidity can especially affect elderly parents, especially those with chronic heart conditions or high blood pressure, according to AARP Healthcare.
The first step families should take is to make sure that a senior’s medications won’t lead to dehydration or overheating. Go over the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day, and keep in mind that caffeine and alcohol can actually increase fluid loss.
A senior’s living space can be adjusted to make the area cooler, too. The website recommends older adults who don’t have air conditioning should keep their windows open to promote cross-ventilation, but close curtains and shades to block out the sunlight.
Those who don’t have air conditioners in their homes may want to go to a place that does. Seniors should consider visiting a library, coffee shop or mall to pass the time during the hottest part of the day.
To better keep track of when it may be time to lower the shades and blast the fan, older adults should keep an eye on weather reports and bring along the right supplies wherever they go, including a water bottle, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sun tan lotion.
If heat continues to be a danger for seniors, families may want to consider talking to their loved ones about transitioning to an independent living community, where homes are designed to be age-friendly and residents have access to a variety of healthcare services to help them live safely and comfortably.
During the summer, everyone should be aware of the risks that heat can present, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that some of the major symptoms of heat stroke include headaches, chills, hallucinations and slurred speech. Excessive sweating can be another sign, as can a complete lack of sweat. This can be a cause for an immediate call to 911.
Heat exhaustion is the result of a lack of water and salt. Individuals who are suffering from this illness should seek shade immediately and drink plenty of water. If they don’t recover quickly, it may be time to contact emergency responders.