5 Tips to Protect Your Loved Ones in the Heat
While we all need to be cautious to prevent heatstroke, elders are particularly vulnerable because their central nervous systems do not manage internal temperature changes as well as they used to. Here are 5 tips to help protect elders during hot weather.
1. Seek the coolest location
Of course during extremely hot weather a well air conditioned room would be best. But if that’s not possible ensure your loved one spends as much time as they can in the coolest location available. Can they go to the library, mall or senor center for a few hours? If that is not possible, or the buildings are closed, even sitting in the shade with a breeze is often a better alternative than staying indoors without air conditioning. Also, remember that heat rises, so sleeping on the lowest floor available may help. Seniors with air conditioners who are reluctant to use them due to cost should know there are New Jersey utility assistance programs available to help like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
2. Know the signs of heatstroke
Your loved one may slowly begin to show signs of the heat affecting their health, or it could be sudden. While taking precautions to prevent the heat from affecting your loved one, also keep an eye on their behavior, outward appearance and their temperature. Is their heart racing? Have they fainted? Become familiar with all of the signs of heatstroke and remember that people may be affected differently. Get them immediate medical attention if you suspect heatstroke or heat exhaustion.
3. Stay hydrated
Make sure your loved one is drinking plenty of fluids. If possible, verify that the color of their urine indicates they are staying hydrated. Alcohol and caffeine both make dehydration worse. Discuss with your loved one why it might be wise to limit intake of liquids containing these chemicals during especially hot days. If they take medication that makes staying hydrated more difficult, consult with their doctor so you have a plan for extreme heat.
4. Stay out of the sun
Sunlight makes it feel even hotter. If indoors, block the sunlight from windows during very hot weather. If your elder loved one is going out, try to plan trips early or later in the day and make sure they protect themselves from the sun, with protective clothing such as hats and light long-sleeved clothing, or with protective sunscreen.
5. Take care of yourself
You know how flight attendants remind you to put an oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others? If you are a caregiver, you will be of very little use to the person in your care if you do not follow these tips for yourself also. Stay hydrated, monitor your health and stay out of the sun in the coolest possible location to keep you both safe.
Most importantly, make sure to check in with your loved ones in person to ensure they are keeping themselves safe and their needs are being met. Extreme weather, especially when the temperature is over 90 degrees and the humidity is over 70 percent, can have serious consequences with very little warning.
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