Record temperatures are being recorded in the western states and these sweltering summer days can kill. That’s why it’s critical we protect our elderly and make sure they are keeping cool while the Fahrenheit rises well past 110 degrees.
1. Do wellness checks and stop by a senior’s house to make sure the air conditioner is working properly. You can quickly spot potential a/c problems by checking the filter. If dusty, change it. A fresh new filter helps keep air conditioners running properly, especially if they are having to run constantly 24/7 during the heatwave. It’s a small thing to do, but from our experiences as landlords it cuts way down on our a/c repairs.
2. If the air conditioner is not working or may break down, get the older person out of the house and to a cool place immediately. That may mean forcing the person to leave, which is not easy with seniors who want to stay in their houses.
I had the same problem with my elderly parents last summer when our electricity went out. They would not go to a motel. But there is a lot of difference in the temperatures we were experiencing in the 90’s and the thermometers now reaching over 110 degrees. We were miserable, but some seniors in the west could possible lose their lives this summer.
3. It may be necessary to add fans also. The air outside will be heavy making breathing difficult. Fans help to circulate the air inside which could give more relief, especially to an elderly person who may have breathing problems.
4. Keep them from getting dehydrated by providing lots of cold drinks. Iced bottle water, Gatorade, and cold fruit drinks help. We drink a lot of iced tea in the south and heat is one of the reasons why. Watch the calories with fruit drinks because diabetics may not be able to have them. Unsweetened iced tea is a good option but check with their health care provider to make sure it’s okay.
Keep plenty of ice on hand. If the ice maker fails to make as much ice as they need, buy more. Ice is a must for making ice packs which also can give a lot of relief.
5. One of the biggest problems with the elderly is decreased appetite, and hot weather makes this even more of a hazard. Bring in cool light foods such as salads and fruits. Heavy foods such as meat dishes probably won’t be eaten by an older person who may not have the energy to tackle that much food. Try to get them to eat smaller portions and more often.
6. Don’t forget the older person’s pets. Make sure dogs and cats have plenty of fresh cool water. Walk the dog early in the morning if the senior is unable to go out. An animal could also lose its appetite during hot weather.
Give dogs and cats special treats and entice them to eat their food by adding a little cheese or meats, if allowed by their vets. Animals are very important for the elderly and can provide a lot of company, especially for older people who live alone.
7. Take them for an outing to a mall. They can relax in a cool place and they’ll also be around people. It’s a good opportunity to get a nice meal out.
If they’re a shut-in, keep them entertained at home while everyone sits out the heatwave. They need a good working television and this is not the time for theirs to conk out. Loan them a T.V. or buy one for them. It will be money well spent.
Also, spend some time with the person and stay for a visit. They need to know someone cares and the best way to show that is to keep them company. This breaks up their day and makes everything a little more tolerable.
You never really get used to excessive heat. I can say that with all truthfulness since I am now into my 57th summer in Nashville. But the good news is the hot summer doesn’t last forever and if you can keep September in your mind, it will be here with welcomed cooler weather before you know it.