Tips for Caregivers to Help Seniors Cope With the Heat

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Tips for Caregivers to Help Seniors Cope With the Heat

Tips for Caregivers to Help Senior With the Heat

Summer is around the corner, and with it, the potential for health problems related to heat exposure. Nearly 400 Americans die from heat-related issues every year with the majority of them being elderly. Numerous factors contribute to an elderly individual’s inability to cope with excessive heat, and the individual doesn’t have to be outdoors in the sun to be affected. That’s why we’ve created these tips for caregivers to help seniors cope with the heat.

Why Is Heat an Issue With Seniors?

Because poorer circulation makes many seniors feel too cold in air conditioned spaces, they are more physically comfortable when the room temperature is actually much warmer than is safe. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be the results.

Caregivers must not only be alert to the danger signs of heat exposure but also know how to minimize the risk. After several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate intake of fluids, seniors are at risk of heat exhaustion, and heavy sweating, fatigue, weakness and dizziness are the signs. The skin may feel cool and moist, the pulse rate is fast but weak, and breathing is fast and shallow. Victims of the most serious heat-related illness, heat stroke, have a body temperature above 103° F. Instead of sweating, their skin is hot, but dry. A strong, rapid pulse is accompanied by a throbbing headache, dizziness and nausea.

Tips for Caregivers to Help Seniors Cope With the Heat

To prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, caregivers should:

  • Provide cool (not cold) beverages to the care recipient throughout the day. Explain the importance of drinking lots of liquids.
  • Make sure the care recipient is dressed in light-weight clothing.
  • Have them sit near a fan.
  • Close curtains or blinds as needed to block the sun.
  • Keep electric lighting as low as possible.
  • Serve frozen treats or watermelon.
  • Place cool moist towels on the back of the neck or wrist.

Should you detect signs of heat exposure or stroke, get medical assistance as soon as possible. In the meantime,

  • Use whatever methods you can to cool the person rapidly, i.e. sponge them with cool water; wrap them in a cool, wet sheet; fan them vigorously.
  • If the space is air conditioned, lower the temperature.
  • Monitor the body temperature and continue cooling efforts until help arrives.

Preventing heat-related incidences inherently becomes part of each caregiver’s care plan as summer approaches. Get prepared, be alert to warning signs, and convey your care, concerns, and prevention plan to your care recipient in advance.