It is a known fact that heat has the potential to become deadly. From the years of 1999 to 2010, a total of 8,081 deaths related to the heat were reported within the United States. A total of 72% of these deaths were caused by direct exposure to excessive amounts of heat.
Nearly all deaths related to heat occurred from the months of May through September, with the highest number of deaths occurring in the months of July and August. Our nation’s elderly populations are most susceptible to the heat. This is due to the fact that the people in elderly populations often experience poor levels in circulation and do not sweat in the same manner as younger populations.
Furthermore, many of the elderly are suffering from medical conditions that make them more susceptible. In this guide, you will be presented with 5 strategies that will help protect the elderly from the heat.
Strategy #1: Ensure Proper Hydration
As we age, we lose out ability to conserve water in the body. Additionally, we become less attentive to thirst and experience many complications in adjusting to changes in temperatures. In order to protect the elderly from the detrimental effects of the heat, it is essential that we ensure that they are kept properly hydrated.
All elderly adults should drink at least 8 ounces of water each day. This amount should be increased if they are in warmer temperatures, such as tropical climates or lack air conditioning. Additionally, drinks should be consumed that contain salt, potassium, and electrolytes in order to replace fluids lost through sweating.
Strategy #2: Ensure Consistent Exposure to Air-Conditioning
Air-conditioning is critical to protecting the elderly from the heat. If the individual does not have air-conditioning in their place of residence, there are often areas in the community where they may go to escape the heat. These include specially-designated cooling centers for the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, libraries, even local coffee shops, and stores.
If it is difficult for the individual to leave their home, you may encourage them to take a cool shower and wrap cool cloths around their necks, rests, and place their feet in a container of cool water. These activities will bring down their core body temperature.
Strategy #3: Know the Warmest Part of the Day
While many of the elderly enjoy getting out and about during the day, there are very warm parts of the day that should be avoided. These include the times of 10:00am – 12:00pm and 3:00pm-6:00pm. If the individual must go outdoors during this time, they should be dressed in light-colored, loose-fitting fabrics, and a hat to help offset the heat being emitted from the sun.
Strategy #4: Check-In Regularly
If you have a friend or relative that you are concerned about, it is essential that you create a buddy system that includes you and a few other people. Each day, you should designate someone to call the person and check in on them. If the person lacks air conditioning in their home, they should be checked in on at least twice a day – once around lunch and once in the evening.
Strategy #5: Create and Keep Frozen Treats Available
To protect the elderly from the heat, you should keep frozen treats available at all times. These should contain large amounts of water, but, low amounts of sugar. You may keep popsicles in the freezer, create cold smoothies that contain nutrients, or even crushed ice chips that they may suck on to stay hydrated.
Is there an elderly person that you are concerned about? Contact us today and we will evaluate their home’s cooling system. If they do not have an air conditioner, we can meet with you to discuss financing and other options: https://ronaldsmithhvac.com/schedule/