Tips for keeping seniors safe during heat wave

July 18, 2012

Online Staff Report

Nobody likes extreme and prolonged heat, but such conditions can be deadly for older adults. That’s why senior care experts are encouraging families to take extra precautions to protect their aging loved ones during summer heat waves.

Older adults are often among the most vulnerable to severe heat. Their bodies do not adjust to sudden changes in temperature, they are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat, and they are often on a prescription medicine that impairs the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibits perspiration.

Following are tips from Home Instead Senior Care office to help seniors combat the heat:

Keep a glass of water in every room to quickly and easily access fluids. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Wear short sleeves, lightweight rayons or cottons, and light-colored clothing that reflect the heat.

Stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.

Save household chores, particularly washing and drying clothes and operating the dishwasher, for evenings, when the weather is cooler.

Take a nap during high heat times — between 3 and 5 p.m. in the afternoon — or find a good television program or movie to watch.

Keep the shades down and blinds pulled. Keeping a house tightly closed is more energy efficient.

If you don’t have an air conditioner, or if yours is broken, spend the afternoon at the mall or another air conditioned location.

Put away that meat loaf recipe for the summer and track down new recipes for fruit and vegetable salads. Foods like proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.

If increased use of a central air conditioning system causes higher utility bills that are a problem for your budget, consider purchasing a fan or small window unit that can cool down a home at a lower cost. In fact, window fans provide an effective way to exhaust the day’s hot air during the night.

For more about the heat, visit the National Weather Service Web site at http://www.noaa.gov and the Federal Emergency Management Agency website at www.fema.gov. Or, to learn more about Home Instead Senior Care, log on to www.homeinstead.com. The Rockford office is at 2606 Broadway, No. 2e, Rockford, and can be reached at (815) 229-8810.

Posted July 18, 2012

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