Three main factors increase the risk of heat stress in older adults.
One, they often have chronic conditions that impact how well the body responds to hot weather. Second, the internal thermostats in an older adult’s body don’t work as effectively as it did when they were younger. Finally, prescription medications can impact body temperature.
To counteract this, seniors need to be careful about the heat. Air conditioning is ideal at keeping the house cool enough. What happens if your dad’s AC goes out? Would he know what to do? Are you close by for help or could you talk him through some ways to stay cool?
Take a Cool Bath or Shower
If the AC is out, your dad can stay cool by keeping cool in the water. If he has a bathtub, a soak in cool water will help. It’s not the same as a pool, but it’s a start. He could also take a cool shower.
Instead of undressing, he should stay in a t-shirt and shorts and get those items damp. The damp cotton will keep him cool while it dries out.
Drink Extra Water
He should increase the amount of water he drinks. Hot weather can increase the risk of dehydration. If he has a health condition that restricts the amount of water he takes in, he needs to talk to his doctor about how much is safe to drink.
Don’t Cook Meals
Using the stove or oven inside is going to heat up the house more than it is. He needs to avoid cooking. Deli sandwiches and salads are essential. If he has to cook, he needs to limit it to his outdoor grill. If it has a side burner, he or a caregiver could cook pasta or eggs outside.
Who is Checking on Him?
If your dad lives alone, who is checking on him? If his AC stops working, is anyone likely to know? You may not be able to stop by daily and see how he’s doing. A phone call may not give you enough detail to know if he’s overheating, dehydrated, or having a hard time in the heat.
Caregivers can. Elderly care services include check-ins where a caregiver stops by to see how he’s doing. It’s easy to arrange these visits. Call an elderly care agency and ask about pricing and let the specialist know, how often caregivers should stop by to visit.