June 16

Remember to Take the Summer Heat Seriously

By Jo Ellen Bleavins of Gardant Management Solutions

With summer officially set to begin on Monday, June 20, I want to remind you that high temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity levels, should be of concern to all of us, especially older adults.

Shield your skin and eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Wear protective clothing, such as lightweight clothing and light color fabrics, hats and sunglasses… or shade with an umbrella.

This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the continental United States is facing higher chances of above average summer temperatures.

AccuWeather.com says that we should expect more 90 degree days than normal and that heat will be a common concern here in the Midwest where Gardant manages communities in Illinois and Indiana.

AccuWeather also predicts that the heat will extend down into the southeast, where Gardant manages a community in Atlanta. The humidity levels are expected to be higher in the southeast than areas farther north.

Older adults are much more prone to the effects of heat and dehydration for the following reasons: their body does not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature; they may have a chronic medical condition that changes their normal body response to heat; and they may be taking prescription medications that impair their body’s ability to regulate its temperature or inhibit perspiration.

Young children and individuals who are sick or overweight are also among those most at risk. There are a few precautions to consider each summer.

Tips for coping with the summer heat and sun include the following:

  • Drink plenty of water, regardless of activity, even if you are not thirsty. (Be sure to check with your doctor if your doctor has limited the amount of fluid you drink or if you are taking water pills.)
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol. Limit the amount of caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee that you drink.
  • Keep the sunscreen handy and use it. As you age, your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. Choose a sunscreen that offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. It should be a broadband UV spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB light. Be sure to apply generously.
  • Shield your skin and eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Wear protective clothing, such as light weight and light color fabrics, hats and sunglasses.
  • Take cool baths or showers. Sponge baths, ice bags and wet towels also can be helpful.
  • Install air conditioning or large fans to keep air moving. Check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation. Weather-strip your doors and window sills to keep cool air inside.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings. Install temporary window reflectors such as aluminum foiled-covered cardboard to reflect heat back outside.
  • Visit air-conditioned restaurants and malls.

For assistance in locating buildings that serve as Cooling Centers during heat emergencies, you can go to the Keep Cool Illinois website, or you can contact the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 or your local Area Agency on Aging.

To cool off during heat emergencies, we invite you to visit a Gardant community.

To cool off during heat emergencies, we also invite you to visit a Gardant community near you. For a map of where our assisted living, senior living and memory care communities are located Click Here.

One of the included amenities that takes on so much added importance at our communities when heat warnings and advisories are in effect is air conditioning. The cost of utilities such as air conditioning is included in the monthly fee.

In addition, certified nursing assistants are on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week at our assisted living and memory care communities. They work under the direction of a licensed nurse. Conducting a daily welfare check on each resident is just one of their responsibilities.

An emergency alert system comes standard with each of our assisted living apartments, and three-restaurant-style meals are also among the included services. Snacks and beverages are available whenever the dining room is not open.

During the summer when the temperatures are high, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages us to visit at risk older adults at least twice a day and to be sure to watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion can include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a pulse that is fast and weak. To help overcome heat exhaustion, drink cool non-alcoholic beverages; rest; take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath; seek an air-conditioned environment; and wear light-weight clothing.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening illness in which a person’s body temperature can rise above 106 degrees in minutes. Symptoms can include red, hot and dry skin (no sweating); a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headaches; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.

If you suspect that someone might be experiencing heat stroke, call for medical attention as soon as possible. Until medical help arrives, get the person to a shady area and cool the victim using whatever methods you can such as a cool tub of water, a cool shower, cool water from a garden hose or a cool sponge bath.

For more information on heat and older adults and tips on what you can do the protect yourself and others, here are a couple of websites you might want to visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Protection

National Institutes for Health

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