Summer safety for the elderly
We often associate summer and the warmer weather with fun in the sun, but for older Australians the heat can be dangerous. Caring for the elderly in the heat means taking extra precautions to ensure they can enjoy the warmth while staying safe and healthy.
These five tips can help aged care workers and caregivers deliver the best care to the elderly in the heat over summer.
- Staying hydrated
Hydration may seem obvious, but it needs to be noted. While everyone should be drinking plenty of water during the warm weather, older individuals are more likely to be affected by dehydration. This is because the body has less water volume, not to mention the sense of thirst can decrease or individuals may simply forget to drink water. Ensure a water bottle or glass of cool water is always in reach during the heat. Take note of urine colour too, and if it is brown or dark yellow, take extra care to increase fluid intake.
- Keep cool
As we age our bodies don’t cope quite as well with changes in temperature, particular if it is sudden. Making the effort to keep cool is vital to avoid heat stress on hot days. Air conditioning and fans are effective options, but you can also try sitting with feet in a container of cool water and using a wet cloth to wipe down arms, face and neck to cool down.
- Dress appropriately
It’s important not to overdress older individuals during hot weather. Aim for natural fabrics that breathe and can help to cool the body down. Of course, if an older person needs to go out in the sunshine, a hat and sunglasses are essential protective wear.
- Eat smaller meals
The heat can diminish appetite for food, but of course it is important to encourage those in your care to eat adequately. Smaller meals but more often can be easier to stomach, and offering cold options like salads can help too.
- Assess medications
Some medications can increase the risk of heat-related issues and illness. Ensure that you are fully aware of any medication risk factors or dosage adjustments that are needed during hot weather.