New stories recently broke that July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest month on record. Even though grocery stores are already loaded with pumpkin spice everything at the end of August and in early September, the temperatures aren’t quite ready for fall y’all. Getting your aging Baby Boomer through the dog days of summer safely is important, as high temps and humidity equal high health risk factors for the elderly. Overheating for a sustained period of time can create problems in and older person such as: heat syncope (dizziness), heat cramps, heat edema (swelling in ankles or feet) or heat exhaustion. The most serious heat-related condition for the elderly is heat stroke (symptoms include fainting, confusion, agitation, and staggering), which would require immediate medical attention. Older people living in inadequately cooled homes or apartments are at most vulnerable. To lower the chances of your senior suffering from heat-related illness when they have a home that isn’t cool enough, you can make sure they:
- Drink plenty of water, but limit alcohol or caffeine. (If you’re the caretaker, during hot weather, check in on your elderly loved one more regularly, particularly to make sure they avoid dehydration. Symptoms are: dry, sticky mouth; fatigue; dry skin; headache; constipation; less urine; extreme thirst; and rapid heartbeat.)
- Keep their home as cool as possible, by closing shades, blinds, or curtains during the hottest part of the day.
- Spend the mid-day portion in an air-conditioned spot like the library, senior center or movies.
- Wear clothes that are loose and light.