It’s July in South Carolina, and we’re having a heat wave. No big surprise!
And an important part of summer caregiving can be keeping cool. Not just keeping your temper in check, but also keeping you and your careceiver physically cool.
Body temperatures over 103 degrees Fahrenheit are dangerous. And lower temperatures can be dangerous in those with some conditions, including normal aging changes. What temperature outside the body that causes a dangerous level is variable.
It depends upon based on a number of factors including:
- How well their body adjusts to temperature changes,
- The area they live in,
- Their medications and
- Other medical conditions.
Check with your carereceiver’s doctor for specific guidelines for safe temperatures.
Summer caregiving tips for include:
- The CDC recommends air conditioners as the first line of defense against hot weather, especially extremes of heat. If your carereceiver doesn’t have air conditioning, consider contacting your Area Agency on Aging or call 211 for a list of programs assisting seniors with limited resources to get air conditioners.
- Spending time in an air-conditioned public space like a mall or movie theater may be an option during the heat of the day. This may not be an option if your carereceiver is frail or just feels most comfortable at home.
- Avoiding being in direct sun or even outdoors during the hottest times of the day, typically between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, can be another way to stay cool and safe. Exercising or other exertion during those hours can be especially hard on seniors.
- Finding shade and staying in it when possible to stay cooler.
- And the same dangers of leaving an unattended child or pet in a car on hot days also apply to your carereceiver. The temperature inside a car can rise quickly, even on a cool day. Research has shown that 80 percent of the rise in temperature occurs in the first half hour, and a car in the sun can lead to temperature spikes of 40 degrees above the outside temperature even at temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit! So it may be winter with a temperature of 60 degrees outside, but the car can reach dangerous levels of 100 degrees or more in the sun.
- Preparing meals without using your oven can be another way to keep the house cooler. You may be able to cook food on the stove, in a microwave or toaster oven as an alternative to using the regular oven. Or maybe it’s easiest preparing and eating foods that don’t need cooked, like sandwiches and salads!
- Using drapes or curtains to block sunlight and heat from coming inside to heat the house can also help. This should be balanced with risks of rooms being too dark for your carereceiver to see adequately.
Generally speaking, natural fabrics like cotton or linen are cooler than synthetic fibers. Light colored fabrics reflect sunlight and heat rather than absorbing it like dark fabrics. Loose fitting clothes feel cooler and are more comfortable.
A hat will give shade and protection against sunburn. This is especially important for those with fair skin and light colored hair, and thinning hair or baldness.
These summer caregiving tips can help to make your summer happy, healthy and cool!
What are your favorite tips? Share them in the comments below.
Please Note: The information and suggestions in this article are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Check with your doctor or your carereceiver’s doctor for recommendations for your situation.