Articles of Interest

Top 10 Ways to Help Seniors to Beat the Heat

Asspring blossoms and the summer heats up, many of our nation’s senior   citizens will begin to leave their homes to take advantage of thesun and warm weather. Although many would agree that “age is a stateof mind,” the summer months bring with them risks   to susceptibleelderly populations that have been homebound during the wintermonths.

That’swhy Visiting Angels, the nation’s leading at-home non-medicalassisted living service provider, has created the following tips tohelp seniors prepare for the sweltering conditions and the rigors ofliving through the upcoming heat waves.

1) Keep household windows open.
The elderly tend to losetheir sense of body temperature, which could lead to death from heatillnesses. According to the Center for Disease Control, during 1979to 1999, 8,015 heat-related deaths occurred in this country. Aspeople age, their brain sometimes can’t recognize that the body isoverheating. As a result, some seniors keep windows closed or maywear sweaters on sweltering days because they feel cold.  Be sure toopen some windows throughout the house to circulate fresh air andmaintain a safe temperature.

2)    Stay cool inside cars.
 When traveling in a car withseniors, always maintain a suitable temperature during the trip. Leave windows open if they stay in the vehicle while you run into astore.  Like very young members of the family, seniors need freshair, as they run a greater risk of overheating in a hot, closedautomobile. And of course for safety, make sure all passengers usetheir seat belts.

3)    Minimize exposure to the sun.
Whether it is around thehouse, in the park or at the beach, seniors need to limit directexposure to the sun.  Not only do they run a higher risk of skindisease, sunburn, or overheating, but also exhaustion, an oftendangerous—and overlooked—hazard during the summer.  Being overactiveor simply sitting outside for too long puts the elderly at risk toserious conditions that may threaten their health. To minimize riskswear light colored clothing and plan outdoor activities during thecooler parts of the day.

4)   Drink plenty of fluids.
Staying hydrated is essential foreveryone, but the elderly tend to lose fluids faster than other agegroups.  Given the threat of overheating and becoming physicallystrained, it is important that seniors drink a lot of water andother liquids to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

5)    Avoid stressful activities.
Even the most vivaciousseniors should be careful how much energy they expend outdoorsduring the summer months. It can be difficult for the elderly togive up activities or responsibilities as they get older, so be surethat seniors are not over-extending themselves.  Tasks such asmowing lawns and gardening should be saved for cooler days, orpassed on to landscaping companies. 

6)    Stay active, but cool.
Take part in activities that areenjoyable and appropriate for weather conditions, and emphasizesocialization. Pool exercises are a perfect way for seniors to stayfit, flexible and cool.  Also, many community centers provideactivities in air conditioned facilities for the elderly that focuson their interests, promote friendships, and allow trained staff tomonitor conditions. 

7)    Understand how sun exposure can effect certain medications.
Some prescription medications can have negative side effects if theuser has prolonged exposure to the sun or takes part in outdoorphysical activities in very hot weather. Certain medications (e.g.,anti-psychotics, tranquilizers, antidepressants, andover-the-counter sleeping pills) can impair the body's ability toregulate its temperature or inhibit perspiration under similarconditions. All of these risks are amplified when combined withalcoholic beverages. Seniors should always read the warning labelson medication and check with a physician or pharmacist to avoidharmful side effects. 

8)    Wear sunscreen and bug repellant.
The season’s sun andbugs can be a challenge to summer comfort, so be prepared to preventtheir sting.  Keep bug spray and a high-SPF sunscreen on hand, andapply the treatment regularly in accordance with the labelinstructions.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.