You may have a lot on your list of things to do this summer, from relaxing to traveling. However, you might also want to add “check in on elderly loved ones” to this list. These vulnerable adults can suffer extreme consequences of heat-related conditions, so summer is an excellent time to make sure they are safe.
What are their living conditions like?
Whether your loved one lives in a nursing home facility, their own house or with a family member, ensure living conditions are safe.
A person’s residence should have:
- Air conditioning or fans to keep rooms comfortable
- Access to open windows
- Protection from direct sun exposure
- Curtains or blinds to cover windows during the hottest times of day
- Lightweight clothing
These amenities and everyday items can keep seniors at a safe, comfortable temperature. They can also protect them from potential sunburns and serious illnesses.
Are they hydrated?
Dehydration is a serious threat to vulnerable adults year-round, but it can be especially common in the summer.
When you visit your loved one or speak with their care provider, it can be wise to assess whether they have:
- Access to ample water and other un-caffeinated beverages throughout the day
- IV fluids, if necessary
- Foods with high-water content, like berries, oranges and cucumbers
- Measures to protect against fluid loss through sweat (including those listed above)
Further, your loved one may also be on medication that causes dehydration or exacerbate sun sensitivity, so be mindful of these side effects.
Why are seniors so vulnerable to the heat?
These measures are crucial for older adults because they may have impaired communication skills to express when they are thirsty. They could have memory problems that increase the risk of dehydration and malnutrition, as well as difficulty adjusting to shifts in temperatures.
Because of these factors, ensuring a loved one is safe and healthy during the summer months is vital. Without proper oversight and care, someone could suffer severe – and potentially fatal – consequences of heat-related conditions.