Maintaining their independence is important to most seniors. Given the choice, most people would rather stay in their own homes for as long as possible—and who can blame them?
However, seniors are at high risk for extreme temperatures and other seasonal concerns, whether they’re in their homes or in a facility like a nursing home or assisted living facility. While many facilities do a great job at keeping residents safe and comfortable, others are not so diligent.
With summer approaching, it’s important to think about the safety and well-being of your elderly relatives. Do they have everything they need to stay safe in the summer heat? Do they know how important it is to prevent heatstroke? Here are some tips for properly caring for senior relatives during the hot summer months.
Keep Seniors Hydrated & Cool in the Summer
Hundreds of people die every year from heatstroke, and the majority of these victims are elderly. Seniors are more sensitive to both heat and cold, and often have trouble safely regulating the temperature in their homes. Medical conditions, along with reduced sweating and poor circulation, all contribute to seniors being at greater risk of developing heatstroke.
Make sure your elderly relatives have easy-to-control and effective air conditioning units and check to make sure they are in good working order. If they don’t or won’t use air conditioning, see if they can go to a library or senior center for a few hours a day.
It’s also important for seniors to stay hydrated and to dress appropriately. Your relative might grumble about you closing their blinds or offering them beverages and fruit, but it’s important to keep seniors cool!
Tips for Helping Your Elders
The best tip for helping your elders is to stay engaged. Make sure they are eating healthy food, sleeping enough, exercising, and staying cool. It’s also important to ensure that they have social outlets to prevent isolation and loneliness.
Take a look at your elder relative’s life and see where you might be able to offer help. Can you prep some healthy, cooling meals for them? Drive them to social engagements and doctor’s appointments? Drop by every few days for a glass of iced tea and some conversation?
Every situation is different, but simply staying vigilant and looking for opportunities to help can make a huge difference. Also check out local government resources for seniors in your area.
Health Issues and Senior Care
Many people are unable to stay in their own homes due to health issues as they get older. Unfortunately, health policy in the United States does not always protect seniors and ensure that they get the care they need. This leaves many families scrambling to find care solutions.
Care for seniors is also often inadequate, as overstretched family members try to juggle caregiver demands with other responsibilities or facilities fail to meet seniors’ needs for physical and mental health. Many seniors have their basic needs met but are not given opportunities to exercise their brains or bodies. Emotional well-being is also an often overlooked consideration for seniors experiencing health issues.
It’s important to be an advocate and to realize that seniors need more than just protection from the elements, three meals a day, and help getting dressed. Even with health issues, people need physical, mental, and emotional outlets.
Help Raise Awareness of Patient Safety
Heatstroke is a concern for seniors, no matter where they’re living. Safety needs to come first whenever you are providing care for the elderly. If you’re responsible for keeping a relative safe, then you need to be an advocate. Make sure that daily care and medical care that is provided prioritizes safety.
When people get older, their needs and safety are often dismissed. They may not be able to advocate for themselves, due to health conditions or a power imbalance. If you want to help make all seniors safer this summer, then it’s important to raise awareness about these issues.
Talk to people about the dangers of heatstroke so they can protect their family members. Let people know that safety lapses and abuse can occur in any facility. Seniors have a lot of life experience, but they are among the most vulnerable members of our society. We need to care for them the right way, this summer and beyond!