Whatever part of the country you live in, it’s been a mild summer, a hot summer, and a too hot summer so far. This likely means that residents of Mount Vernon and elsewhere are on the lookout for ways to stay cool, especially those receiving hospice care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice is always looking out for our clients. With every visit, we assess their physical health and their mental health since both of these things are important for their quality of life.
We also do our best to look at the environment they’re in to make sure it’s not affecting their health.
For instance, a place with heating problems could make things challenging in the winter. The opposite is true in the summer since clients also don’t want to get too hot. Having some kind of way to keep things cool can be more than convenient – it could help them avoid injury or even death if things get too warm for too long.
Whether this means making sure their air conditioner works or at least a fan or two, it could keep them from being overheated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all of us are affected by heat, but those over age 65 are especially challenged by high temperatures. Their bodies often have difficulties adjusting to changes in temperature than younger people, possibly due to chronic health conditions, medications, or thinner skin. They also may look for ways to cut down on expenses, such as power bills or repairing a broken fan, which also makes
All of these factors can easily lead to heat-related medical conditions that with a greater possibility of death the longer someone remains in a warm environment.
Finding ways to beat the heat indoors or outdoors is an important concern, but one of many that seniors or their caregivers need to deal with during the summer. Summer often has different challenges for seniors than other seasons, such as winter.
For instance, there are more outdoor activities and longer periods of sunlight. There are more people out and about. There are warmer days.
Some challenges to seniors include:
- Spending a lot of time outdoors during the summer sounds wonderful. On a nice day, there are all sorts of activities to take part in, from walks to farmers’ markets. But as fun as these can be, they also can be tiring. You could have a big itinerary but have to pause or cancel things if people get too tired. People may have mobility problems so won’t be able to walk very far or for too long. Caregivers might want to consider ways for their clients to get around easier and with less effort during the summer, such as renting a wheelchair. They also can concentrate their sight-seeing to a few nearby attractions for a longer stay rather than make an extended list to cram into one day.
- A summer road trip might sound fun and refreshing but could increase the possibility of confusion if someone visits a new area and doesn’t know their way around. Caregivers can help anticipate how someone will act by letting them know where they are and where they’re going. Or consider turning a planned vacation to another city into a staycation by visiting familiar areas and staying closer to home.
- Outdoor heat. It can be tempting, especially on a nice day, to want to spend as much time of it outside, even if it’s low-impact activities. Caregivers and seniors alike need to plan for possible risks, starting with putting on sunscreen before leaving the home to avoid painful sunburns or increasing the risk of skin cancer. Some sun protection like a hat is in order, even if they’re not especially active. Staying underneath an awning or umbrella can help keep things cool especially as the sun moves through the day and the temperature changes. They also need to make sure they stay hydrated. People’s bodies change as they age, so they can get dehydrated faster, sweat more and be more sensitive to temperature. Certain medications and medical conditions, including someone who has had chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer, could sometimes make someone more photosensitive and dehydrated before they realize it.
Because staying cool is so important for any age, especially seniors, there are a variety of resources out there.
This month is also the start of Air Conditioning Appreciation Days. The official annual holiday began July 3 and runs through Aug. 15. The holiday has been organized by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute as a way to help people learn more about this cooling option as well as ways to keep their existing unit well-maintained, cleaned and running at optimal levels.
It’s also an opportunity to learn more about how useful this device has been for our population. Long before people had them in their homes, people would go places where they could be found such as movie theaters. This would be a great relief, easier than staying in their homes in the heat of summer.