We all have memories of the disastrous heatwave of August 2003, when almost 15,000 people passed away, among which many seniors. Since then, the concern for seniors’ specific needs during the summer has become more common.
Seniors in the summertime: stay in touch
France experienced quite a shock in 2003 when they realized that a significant number of seniors who died during the heatwave were actually very isolated and didn’t get any visits. That’s a fact: summer is a dreaded period for seniors, especially when they live on their own. Their younger relatives are away on vacation, while they stay at home, out of a lack of financial resources or autonomy. Don’t break the bond! Keep an eye on your senior relatives during the summer, even if you’re not physically present. Get them a Weenect GPS tracker that’ll warn you in case of an incident, give them a phone call every now and then, and if you’re worried about their well-being, contact a neighbor, a friend or even their doctor, to make sure that the senior is alright.
The best option of course, is still to provide physical presence to the seniors around you. It’s not staying all day, but paying frequent and regular visits. It’s the right moment for you to chat, get news, make sure that everything is alright, bring food (going grocery shopping when it’s hot is even more of a hassle)…
Staying fresh and hydrated should be a daily routine for seniors
In a practical sense, the major risks incurred during a heatwave are dehydration and heat strokes. There are various causes of dehydration: the body doesn’t store as much water when you get older, which makes the feeling of thirst disappear. As a result, seniors get dehydrated and they don’t even notice it. Hence the importance of drinking water! Make sure your relative drinks enough by offering a glass every now and then and reminding him/her to hydrate. Feel free to upgrade the taste with syrup or tea.
As for the heat stroke, it’s characterized by a significant increase of the body temperature and goes along with a headache, faintness, disorientation that can lead to a blackout. It’s a medical emergency. The heat stroke usually happens indoors: bad heat insulation, biased awareness of their own body temperature (it is common that seniors wears too many layers of clothes)… Before the heatwave starts, make sure that the senior’s home is at an acceptable temperature. If not, use alternatives (ventilators, portable air conditioner, shades…). In case of a heat stroke, call an emergency service.
Food, medication: be vigilant
Just like thirst, seniors have trouble detecting hunger. But that’s the thing: a great part of hydration comes from the food we eat! Therefore it is essential for the senior to eat appropriately. It doesn’t mean that they have to binge on food. However they should eat fruits, vegetables, and starch according to their appetite. They might have to force themselves a little…
You may also need to watch the senior’s behavior after taking medication. The fatigue due to heat and dehydration can also change the effects of medication, and cause dizziness for instance. Be attentive!
During a heatwave, be a little more alert to your elderly relatives than you usually are. Most people know about preventive actions, but it’s your physical presence that’s valuable and reassuring!