The blistering Chicago heat arrived last week. That means it is time to review some tips to keep your senior loved one safe. Our elderly loved ones are more sensitive to the effects of heat and are more prone to dehydration. Remember that they do not adjust well to rapid switches in temperature. If they have a medical condition, it may change the way his/her body reacts to the heat. Prescriptions s/he may be taking also affect the way his/her body adjusts.
I am fortunate enough to have a brother who is able to check on my 91 year old mother on a daily basis, and another brother who stays with her at night. I am blessed and I don’t know what I would have done without either of them. If you aren’t as lucky as I am, you will need to designate a trustworthy individual to check in on you elderly loved one. Whether your senior lives at home or in a senior living community at the independent, assisted living, or skilled nursing level, the following are tips that you can use to cope with the heat:
-Try not to take a senior outside during the hottest parts of the day. This sounds like common sense but when you are under the duress of taking care of a senior and your own family, common sense flies right out the window!
-If your senior is capable of exercising, please do not let them do it outdoors. Move all of the activities inside.
-Please be certain your loved stays hydrated. Exclude caffeine and alcoholic beverages. As a senior living advisor, I always check that my clients who are in communities are being offered plenty of liquids. If your loved one is taking a medication like Lasix, which is a diuretic, the intake may affect the way it works.
-It may be important that the senior drinks liquids like broth, juices and sport drinks that restore their electrolytes, sodium, and potassium.
-Check to see that your loved one’s air conditioner is working properly. If they don’t have air conditioning, you may have to consider taking them to another place until the heat subsides.
Please be mindful of the signs of dehydration which are confusion, thirst, decreased skin elasticity, and crabbiness. You should also be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion which include rapid breathing, sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness, cool skin, nausea, vomiting, fast pulse, and tiredness.
Heat stroke is also a concern during hot weather and happens when the body is unable to control its own temperature. The body cannot maintain its ability to sweat and cool down. Signs include red, dry skin, rapid pulse, nausea, dizziness, headache, and a high temperature. If your loved one has heat stroke, call the paramedics!
If your senior loved one uses a pool, make sure they never swim alone. Bug bites can also impose other health risks. If you notice your loved one has an unusual bug bite, please seek medical attention immediately. Seniors love to garden, but pulling weeds and planting shouldn’t be done in the heat. Encourage him/her to seek assistance.
For help with all of your senior living needs, please contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors. .