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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Lehr-Splawinski, Marketing Communications

How to help a senior manage intense heat

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

We are facing extremely high summer temperatures again which are hard to cope with for almost everyone but especially for seniors 65+. It's much easier for the younger population people to keep their body temperatures low, and our living spaces cool, especially in high humidity.

Seniors are extremely vulnerable to heat especially when suffering from any of the below health issues or conditions that can contribute to heat intolerance and hospitalization. The aging body can't deal with sudden stresses as quickly as a younger one. The skin no longer produces enough sweat to cool down the body. As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes and most seniors don't hydrate drate with enough water intake.

Which seniors are at high risk of dehydration and heat-related conditions?

Seniors with:

  • Chronic health problems

  • Infection(s)

  • Reduced physical mobility

  • Kidney issues

  • High blood pressure

  • Incontinence

  • Constipation

  • Frequent urination

  • Declined physical mobility, require a wheelchair, or are bedridden

  • Diabetes (especially not diagnosed)

  • Mental health issues (Depression, Anxiety)

  • Dementia/Alzheimer's disease

  • Regular medication intake (Diuretics, Antidepressants & more)

  • Being over or underweight

  • Not drinking enough water

  • Living alone and or being isolated

How to take precautions to help a senior stay cool and prevent a heat-related condition:

Ensure that:

1. you have a copy of the person's patient information which includes emergency contact information, medication list & medical conditions, and telephone numbers of doctors or specialists.

2. you take the senior to an air-conditioned place or a cooling center such as a shopping mall, library or seniors center for respite if the person doesn't have an air-conditioned living space.

3. the person is able or gets help with personal care to take a cool bath or shower or sponge off with cool water. a

4 drinks lots of water (minimum of 8 glasses per day) and avoid alcohol & caffeine.

5. rests in a cool environment and in breathable bed linens.

6. the home has adequate ventilation. If not, you can help by providing electric fans that cause air movement to help evaporate sweat from the skin and allow the body to cool down.

4. you check in on a senior frequently in person to make sure they are feeling okay, and have enough water & basics (fresh food including & water-rich fruits & vegetables, ready healthy meals, etc.).

If you notice any signs of heat stress symptoms, immediately call 911.

  • hot & dry & flushed skin

  • rapid & slow pulse

  • body temperature over 104°F (40°C)

  • dizziness

  • weakness

  • vomiting

  • fainting or unconsciousness

  • headache

  • confusion

  • cramps

Helpful tips to help seniors cope with heat:

  • Eating a healthy Medittarean diet with water-rich vegetables & fruits

  • Keeping shades/blinds down until the late afternoon

  • Avoids spending time outside when very hot & humid

  • Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat & comfortable & breathable fabrics such as cottons or linens

  • Avoid walking outside & gardening in the morning &afternoons.

Read more info on heat-related illness & preparedness:

Contact Seniors Choice for Care for person-centred & flexible home health care support services in the Greater Vancouver area, BC. We offer free consultations.

Call us 24/7 at 604.551.8867. You will be speaking directly with Diane Miller, an RN & company owner & operator.

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