Summer months can become exceedingly hot for many but especially for seniors. Every summer, the news reports stories of seniors facing life-threatening conditions, and in some cases even death, due to the effects of high temperatures. While it is widely known that seniors should take care when venturing outdoors during sweltering hot days, it is also important for seniors to know they can become overheated in their own homes.
As seniors age, their bodies become less able to regulate internal temperatures. Sometimes medications they take can contribute to this condition. As a result, you may find that seniors wear sweaters because they feel chilly when, in fact, they should not be cold at all. Other seniors may opt to leave air conditioners off for the same reason. In summer months, this type of behavior can cause seniors to become overheated in their own homes.
It is vitally important for seniors to be aware of the dangers of becoming overheated. One place to start is by helping seniors prepare their homes for the summer months, especially if they live in areas where temperatures become extreme.
Make sure caulking around windows and weather strips around doors are in good repair. Having windows tinted to keep the sunlight at bay can help keep homes cool. Hire an air conditioning repair company to perform service on units: clean coils, filters, and appropriate freon levels ensure air handlers are efficient and prevent break-downs during critical months. Check to see if insulation and ventilation in the attic is sufficient. Planting shade trees to provide cover from the sun can help keep homes cool.
Install ceiling fans to keep rooms cool. Remember, during the summer months ceiling fans should be set to run in a counter-clockwise motion to vent air downwards for a cooling affect. (Most fans have a switch above the blades to do this, as in the winter months the blades should be running in a clockwise motion). Make sure drapes or shades are adequate to keep the sun from beaming in through the windows during the peak of the day. Make sure the clothes dryer vents are clear. If they are clogged, the heat generated by the dryer seeps into the home instead of out the vent. Clogged dryer vents can present a fire hazard, so it is especially important to maintain them properly. Small, battery-operated personal fans can help. Spray bottles filled with water offer a refreshing spritz to keep from overheating.
In any event make sure seniors understand the dangers of becoming overheated during the summer. Some may be surprised this can happen in their own homes. The more education they receive regarding the dangers, the more able they are to take care of themselves properly and beat the heat in the summer.
When seniors live home alone, it is important for them to be prepared for emergencies. During sweltering summers, some states initiate rolling blackouts in order to keep power grids from overheating. Sometimes air conditioners simply break, or electricity can go out for other reasons. In these instances, it is important for seniors to be prepared to keep cool until the situation is rectified. Freezing small bottles of water during the summer is a good idea. If the power goes out, removing them for drinking when they thaw can keep seniors cool. It is also a good idea to wet a few washcloths and keep them in the freezer; if there is a power outage, these can be placed on the back of the neck to help keep seniors cool. Storing extra bottled water is crucial to maintain proper hydration during an emergency.
If seniors do not have family or friends close by, it may be a good idea to hire a company such as Comfort Keepers® to check on them to ensure safety during the summer months. Comfort Keepers can check the temperature levels and ventilation inside homes, as well as help perform daily tasks around the house to keep seniors cool.