In years past, weather in Maryland was generally at its hottest in August with a significant easing toward Fall in September. But the last few years have seen a prolonged summer, with temperatures staying in the 80s and even 90s for weeks after Labor Day. Staying safe and comfortable in the summer heat is always a challenge, but it is particularly important for older adults to avoid some of the dangers of a long, hot summer. Here are some steps to consider.
1. Get the HVAC serviced!
Airconditioning is vital in the hottest temperatures, particularly for people who are homebound, and not as able to open windows or take other measures to cool the home if the event the system breaks. Reputable HVAC companies will make sure that the systems are running smoothly, the ducts are clean of dust that can be irritating to the sinuses, and that the home will stay cool in the summer heat.
2. Have an electrical backup plan.
With the frequent thunderstorms, even a functional AC system won’t help if the power goes out. Loss of cooling and light can be particularly dangerous to an older adult with limited vision and mobility. Consider a generator for the home, and make sure to have a backup battery for the phone in case an emergency call needs to be placed. Finally, have a list of local centers, like the Rockville Senior Center, or the Bethesda-Chevy Chase YMCA that might be a welcoming location to wait until the power comes back on.
3. Be sun savvy
As people age, their outer skin layers thin, which means they are more fragile and easier to harm from a sunburn. According to the CDC, the risk of developing melanoma becomes higher as people age. Make sure to stay out of the most intense sun if possible, and wear sunblock with a high SPF. Consider purchasing sunblock specifically geared towards babies or sensitive skin for an extra measure of comfort and protection. Umbrellas don’t just protect from the rain. While an old-fashioned parasol may be harder to come by, using an umbrella when out in the sun can provide shade if it’s necessary to be out in the midday heat.
4. Hydration Concentration
For all people, staying hydrated is important, but for older adults, it is particularly imperative. Some physical and mental health issues are exacerbated by dehydration, which can lead to an emergency room visit that a couple of glasses of water could have avoided. Often, older adults suffering from incontinence try to limit accidents by avoiding water, which can lead to dehydration. To make it easier to keep an older adult hydrated, try alternatives to plain water, like popsicles, juice, ensure, or flavored water. Always keep beverages easily available, and stay away from caffeine and other diuretics that will make the drinker have to go to the bathroom more often.
There’s not much to do about the weather, but it’s important to be proactive about staying cool and shaded in the summer heat. Friends and loved ones of older adults should check in on them to make sure that they are safe from dangerous conditions like heat stroke or sunburn. If you need help making sure your loved one is doing well in the hot weather, stay in touch with their medical provider. Working with a home healthcare provider can add an extra layer of protection and intervention. We are here to help keep you safe, contact SmithLife Homecare.