Summer is the perfect time of year for outdoor gatherings in many parts of the country. It’s the time for family picnics, county fairs, and outdoor concerts. And while those are all wonderful events to attend, especially for you and your aging parent, they can have inherent risks, especially for the elderly. One of the larger summer risks is heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when a person’s body loses an excessive amount of water and salt, usually due to sweating in high temperatures. It is more common for the elderly and for those who suffer from high blood pressure. So, if your parent suffers from high blood pressure, he or she could be likely to become a victim of heat exhaustion. Companion care at home providers could watch out for this condition in your senior as they help them with the other services they provide.
Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of your parent developing heat exhaustion even on the hottest of days.
- When you prepare your parent for the day (or if you have a companion care at home provider that helps with your parent getting dressed), have your parent wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing too many layers or tight-fitting clothes doesn’t allow a person’s body to cool properly.
- Sunburn will affect your parent’s body’s ability to cool itself, so protect her with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Before you even attend the event, help your parent put on plenty of sunscreen and then reapply often.
- Make sure your parent drinks plenty of fluids, especially non-caffeinated drinks. Staying hydrated will help her body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature. It can be helpful if you or your elder care provider keeps reminding your parent to drink during the outdoor event.
- Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if your parent takes medications that can affect the body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
- Never leave your parent in a parked car, even if you’re just running into the store to grab one thing. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes.
- Have your parent take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can’t avoid activity in hot weather, drink fluids and have your parent rest frequently in a cool spot. When possible, schedule events or attend events that happen during the early morning or evening, when the temperature is cooler, and the sun is lower.
- Limit the time spent in the heat, especially if your parent isn’t used to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness.
- Know your parent’s limitations and listen to their concerns. If your parent starts complaining of dizziness, a headache, or is sweating profusely, get your parent out of the heat and into a cool area as soon as possible.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy a nice warm day outside with your parent, just make sure you take the needed precautions and be prepared if you need to take a break away from the outdoor activity.