With the challenges that winter poses to seniors in New York—think icy sidewalks and freezing temperatures, to name a few—summer weather may seem relatively harmless. This is not the case, and being complacent can harm care for seniors. A few reasons why summer weather is dangerous: seniors do not adjust as quickly as younger people to temperature changes, they are at higher risk of having a condition that affects body responses to heat and their medications can influence perspiration and temperature regulation. Here are some ways to keep seniors safe in the summer.
Hydration: Care for seniors should involve getting them in the habit of drinking water, especially since their bodies adjust more slowly to temperature changes, and seniors may not be tuned into their bodies enough to realize when they are thirsty. Seniors who sweat a lot should also drink salt replacement products that have potassium and salt. They should limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol, particularly alcohol.
Go where it’s cool: Movie theaters, coffee shops and libraries are great, cool places for seniors to go if their homes are not adequately cooled. A local Area Agency on Aging might be able to help a senior get air conditioning.
Proper dress: Think cotton and natural fabrics as opposed to synthetic fibers. Also go for light colors and loose fits for a comfortably cool feel. Don’t forget the sunscreen, bug spray and hats, either.
Tracking activities: It’s great if seniors want to get outside for walks and gardening. Just be sure to monitor how long they stay out and that they are drinking enough fluids. Also try to tailor the activities to places in the shade and times of the day when the sun is not at its hottest.
Check in regularly: Try to check in at least twice a day and get to know the neighbors of your senior loved ones. Get them to help, if possible, and give them your list of emergency contacts.