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Summer Heat and What to Watch Out For

Summer sun and warmth is always a welcome change after frigid Midwest winters. But with 'feels like' temperatures inching into triple digits, we could all benefit from some new habits to keep us cool and hydrated. 

Traditions' own Shannon Kersey, Regional Clinical Specialist for Indiana, was recently invited to share with WRTV listeners how seniors can be especially vulnerable to extreme weather, and what loved ones can do to help.

How Does Heat Affect Seniors?

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, older people are at increased risk of heat-related illnesses.
  • Age can bring poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands, plus potential heart, lung, and kidney disease and even reduced ability to sweat and cool down due to medications.
  • Seniors who are overweight or underweight could also be more susceptible to heat problems.
  • Issues can include heat stroke, swelling in your ankles and feet, dizziness, cramps, and exhaustion.

Things Loved Ones Should Watch For When Visiting Their Elders

The refrigerator holds a lot of clues.

How much water are they drinking?  One daughter stocks the fridge with several bottled glasses of water to ensure her dad drinks enough water each week. 

Are they grocery shopping on their own? Check to see if the ingredients for their favorite dishes are going unused, and watch for expired food. In addition, the CDC does not recommend using the stove during the hottest summer months. Share stove-top, microwave, or no-bake recipes and salads using baked chicken from the deli.

Walk into their home with well-intentioned curiosity.

The first step… is to check whether the air conditioning is on, whether fans are in use, what the thermostat is set to, and what the current temperature is.   

Summer heat can make all of us feel less active. But do you notice your loved one’s home is in disarray? Is the area of the home they typically use shrinking? Are they sleeping more than usual?

These are all signs that additional care may be needed. What can we do?

Try reaching out to long-term neighbors. One centenarian still living in her home opened her window shade first thing every morning to signal to her neighbors she was okay and ready to start her day! Reach out to trusted providers if your loved one needs help with cleaning or ways to make daily life easier, or visit yourself if you or another family member lives or works nearby and has the capacity.

Finally, please consider us. Isolation can have a profound effect on physical and mental well-being, and if daily activities are too much, we can help. Come visit an air-conditioned, vibrant, and supportive Traditions community near you!

Related Article: Heat-Related Health Dangers for Older Adults Soar During the Summer