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Summer Safety for Seniors: Stay Cool When the Heat Rises

As temperatures soar, so do the risks to seniors' health. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation's medical research agency, cautions that seniors are susceptible to a number of heat-related conditions and illnesses that fall under the umbrella of "hyperthermia."

It states that these include "heat stroke, heat edema (swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot), heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat), heat cramps and heat exhaustion."

Ativo Senior Living of Yuma has a special interest in the health and well-being of seniors in this community, which is why it has announced a summer safety campaign to educate people about heat-related illnesses and how they affect seniors—and how to combat them. 

As an added important safety service, our senior living experts can even visit seniors' homes to check to see whether they are safe and provide them with necessary tools such as fans, in case they don't have air conditioners, and water to stave off dehydration.

This summer, with seniors sheltering in an attempt to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis, they invite family and friends to request a visit to a senior as a way to make sure they have what they need to avoid heat-related issues. Of course, the community has plans in place to make these "no contact" visits by calling upon arrival, speaking to them through windows and/or from the car, and then dropping the water and other items at their door. 

For all seniors, the following tips can help keep you safe when the heat is on this summer.

  • Call 9-1-1 if you feel dizzy or ill.
  • Avoid going out during the heat of the day. Schedule errands and outdoor activities for earlier in the morning or in the cooler evening hours.
  • Stay hydrated: Talk to your physician about the recommended amount of fluids.
  • Water is the best fluid; if it seems "dull," spice it up with fruit garnishes, such as lemon or cucumber slices.
  • Eating water-laden foods, such as watermelon and cucumbers, can contribute to your fluid intake. 
  • Manage your room's temperature. Keep shades pulled during the hottest hours of the day, and open your windows at night (if it's safe).
  • Use the power of cross ventilation, which means you are pulling cool air into the room through one opening and hot air out through another. Two windows in a room can work, but you can also keep the doors to rooms open to help air circulate. 
  • Add a ceiling fan to improve airflow. 
  • Use your electric fan wisely. Take note of advice from Andrew Persily; an engineer focused on indoor-air quality at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "[Fans] don't cool the room; they cool the body because there's more air movement. And specifically because they're not cooling the room, it's useless to leave them on when no one is occupying the space. In that case, the fan motor may actually just be adding to the heat in the room."
  • Apply a cool washcloth to wrists, neck, and armpits, which can help cool your blood.
  • Avoid turning on your oven if you can, as it can heat up the room. Instead, use your stove or microwave or eat cold foods to help keep the temperature down. Tired of salads and want some inspiration? Check out these 50 great recipes for no- and barely cook dinners. And, by doubling a recipe, you can cook once and eat twice!

And, again, if you feel sick or believe you might be overheated, make sure to call 9-1-1.

Would you like to schedule a senior safety check for yourself or a loved one? Please contact us so we can learn more about your situation and provide input on how we can help.

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