With age, your body has a harder time regulating body temperature. Sweat production decreases. Body fat stores also change and make it harder for the body to regulate the core temperature. In the heat, the body has a harder time lowering body temperature. The thirst response also decreases. All of this increases the risk of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and dehydration.
Because older adults are more prone to heat-related illnesses, it’s important to implement measures that help keep them cooler. If your parent lives in an area where a heatwave is forecasted, it’s time to take steps to help them avoid overheating.
Set Up Air Conditioners
Set up air conditioners in at least one room in your parents’ house. The main living room is a good place for an air conditioner. If possible, have an air conditioner in a bedroom and living room.
If your parents live in a building or community that doesn’t allow air conditioning units sticking out of windows, they can still have air conditioning. Look for a floor unit that has a hose and casing that fits in the window. The storm window holds it in place. You can use weatherstripping to block any gaps.
Purchase a Small Pool
An air conditioner may be out of the budget. A small inflatable child’s pool filled with cool water can help your mom and dad stay cool. Place it in a shady spot in the yard and when they’re feeling too hot, they can go lay in the pool to get wet. If the water gets too wet, they can top it off with cooler water. Once the heatwave is over, the pool deflates and is easy to store until it’s needed again.
If a pool is out, their bathtub will work. Make sure they have a grab bar to hold when they stand up. A cool shower is also helpful. When they dry off, they should put on light-colored, loose cotton clothing to stay cooler for longer. Wearing damp clothing will really help them stay cool for an hour or two. If they’re worried about sitting on furniture in damp clothes, a layer of towels helps keep the furniture dry.
Make sure someone is checking on your parents to make sure the house isn’t too hot. Senior care aides can make sure they stay hydrated and aren’t overheating. Call a senior care agency to talk about regular welfare visits to check on your parents as often as you need.