How are the elderly folks around you handling the heat?
Many seniors have a tough time dealing with rising temperatures, so it’s important for family members, caregivers and neighbors to make sure they’re OK.
Senior Helpers, an in-home senior care company with locations across the nation, including Salt Lake City, is advising people to protect the aging population around them by assembling a summer survival kit, which are easy to make and cost very little.
“Seniors often won’t admit they can’t deal with extreme heat like they used to. If they have dementia or Alzheimer’s, they don’t even realize they’re thirsty, hot or dizzy,” said Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers.
Ross said a survival kit for a senior citizen should include a reusable water bottle; copies of all prescriptions and health insurance cards; phone numbers of health care providers and information containing chronic health problems; broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher; multivitamins; and a battery-operated, hand-held fan in case of a power outage.
“The biggest concern with the elderly and heat is dehydration,” said Kathy Calton, McKay-Dee Hospital’s emergency department manager.
“The elderly don’t have the ability to compensate like adults and children, so they show symptoms sooner.”
Dr. Joan Balcombe, an emergency department physician at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said elderly skin is not able to produce sweat and cool the body efficiently.
For that reason, seniors should drink more fluids, especially if they are taking certain types of medications.
Symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration include hot and dry skin, paleness, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, confusion, fainting, thirst, headache, weakness, dizziness and lack of tears or urine output.
“Dehydration can lead to more serious conditions such as electrolyte imbalance, urinary tract infection and heart arrhythmias,” Calton said.
Being in a cool place during the warmest time of the day, drinking fluids while staying away from caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, taking a cool bath or shower and using fans or other cooling systems are recommended.
Calton and Balcombe said it’s important for friends, family and neighbors to routinely check on the elderly as temperatures continue to rise.
Check in on them often and make sure their needs are being met. Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids, help them run errands, offer to give them a ride to appointments and assemble a survival kit so they will have something to fall back on.
If you can’t help or know someone who needs help, Senior Helpers has a Heat Helper program, a hired caregiver who will make sure everything is taken care of, Ross said.
For more information, call 801-355-0078.