Extreme heat can pose health risks, especially for the elderly. It is important to think of those who may need our care when above average temperatures arrive, during power outages, or in facilities without air conditioning.
Australia is known for heat waves that can cause a high number of deaths, so it is vital to be aware of cooling solutions to cope with heat risks. Be aware of elderly neighbours and family members, and offer assistance before the heat becomes unbearable.
Why are the elderly more susceptible to heat risks?
Based on statistics, we know that those over age 75 tend to be the victims of heat related injury and death when heat waves strike, but many do not understand why this happens.
Elderly people are more likely to take medication that makes their body more sensitive to drastic temperature changes.
Our bodies have several methods of ridding ourselves of excess heat. One of those is the circulation of our blood, a process that becomes less efficient as we age.
When our homes heat up due to power loss or lack of air conditioning, the elderly are more likely to be stuck at home in the heat.
Mental illness and some physical ailments that become more common with age make it more difficult to discern thirst, and many elderly people become dehydrated without realizing it.
How can you help?
Understanding the situations of the elderly people you know will help you be aware enough to offer your assistance. Here are some things you can do to keep them safe and cool.
If the air conditioner is not running at full capacity, it may be difficult to keep the house cool.
Close blinds and drapes when sun hits the windows.
Encourage plenty of hydration during heat waves to avoid dehydration.
If an elderly person who you are helping is having difficulty staying cool, they may need to purchase or rent an auxiliary air conditioning unit, fan, or ventilation system.
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