Summer is a delightful time of warmth and joyful activities, but for the elderly and those who care for them it can also be challenging. Many seniors find that they cannot get comfortable in the summer. That’s because as we get older, we have more difficulty regulating our body temperature and cooling down. Plus, many older people develop breathing problems that can become more difficult to handle in the heat and humidity of the summer months. It’s important that seniors have a comfortable home to retreat to when they get tired of the heat. Here are a few ways to better prepare the home so older adults can stay cool, comfortable and safe throughout the hotter months.
Check on the Air Conditioner
Air conditioners have a habit of breaking down right on the hottest days, and such a major breakdown can actually become an emergency for a senior. To prevent this problem, have a professional maintain the air conditioner well before the hottest days of the year. That way, you can be sure your air conditioner will make it through the season.
Use Fans Strategically
Even with fans, some older people cannot evaporate heat as quickly as they need to. Too strong of a fan can irritate those with breathing conditions. However, using fans in conjunction with an air conditioner can make a senior’s home more comfortable. Position fans so that they rotate, which ensures that there isn’t constant pressure on the lungs from the stream of air.
Stock the Fridge
Keeping properly hydrated can be a challenge for seniors. They eat less than they used to, and typically drink less too. Know your senior’s favorite water-based desserts, such as popsicles or Jell-O to tempt them into drinking more. Also, try to keep drinks engaging by creating a new pitcher of flavored water every week or so. It’s easier to convince people to drink more when they are drinking something new.
Plan for Sunscreen and Shade
When your senior loved one does venture out, make sure that they are prepared to limit their sun exposure to prevent burns and heat stroke. Many older people grew up in a sunscreen-free era so you may need to educate them on how and why they should use sunscreen.
Also, plan to have a spot where your senior can retreat from the direct sun. There can be a significant temperature difference between the shade and direct sun, which can help make your senior more comfortable.
Time Your Activities
Seniors may be unprepared for how much the sun affects them and may be caught surprised by sudden heat illness. When a senior develops heat stroke, it is imperative that they get cool immediately. That can be a problem if you happen to be in a place where a cool area is inaccessible. Therefore, it is best to time your activities to ensure regular breaks in air-conditioned spaces. Also, make sure that a cool space is close by should it be needed.
With a bit of preparation, your senior loved ones can enjoy summer as much as anyone else, whether they’re at home or enjoying outdoor activities.