As I write this post, the thermometer on our back porch here in Phoenix hits a sizzling 110 degrees. But it’s a dry heat, you say?! Indeed. Nevertheless, I just fried my toes walking to the mailbox and I think the cactus in my yard is about to pull up roots and head for a dunk in the pool!
I shudder to think what it’s like in humid areas of the country as temps rise. No doubt about it: it’s oppressive. And for those of us who are caregivers, concerns about our older loved ones surviving the heat are paramount.
My parents, ages 85 and 88, have lived through many blistering summers, but they are more vulnerable now. Here are some changes I make to protect them from the heat.
- Increase fluids. Watch for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. It’s hard enough to cajole my parents into drinking enough water, and now it’s all the more important. I focus heavily on morning (don’t want to be up all night) and use small glasses (less intimidating) more frequently. A Dixie cup works well or a small juice glass. I often add lemon/lime slices or a packet of electrolyte powder for flavor and motivation. I like Trace Mineral’s Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak (high potassium and low sugar.)
- Arrange house calls. We have excessive heat warnings for the entire week, but when I am knocked down by a wall of heat upon opening the door I don’t need the weather service alerts! My Mom had two doctor appointments this week, but I want to keep my parents cool…and inside. So I’ve rescheduled those non-urgent appointments, and arranged for a mobile doctor to come to her today, checking her skin-tear wounds. There are many at-home medical services, including mobile x-rays, ultrasounds, doctors and nurses.
- Stay active – inside. Of course in hot weather we all slow down a bit, but it’s vitally important for elders to keep up their mobility and strength. Without ongoing exercise, in just one week my Mom can go from being able to get out of a chair by herself to needing hefty assistance. My Dad loves to take walks, but even at 10pm last night it was still over 90 degrees outside! So instead they work out with a fitness instructor in the gym and there’s lots of dancing in the living room. Lately, with a little help, Daddy is becoming quite the Wii bowling afficianado!
- Keep paws cool. Dad loves Jackson like no other, but sometimes Alzheimer’s disease prevents him from realizing how hot the blacktop pavement is for Jackson’s paws. If it’s hot enough to fry an egg, think about how it can cook our beloved pooch’s pads! It’s my job to ensure Jackson stays safe in the heat, including limited time outside and lots of water.
Keep your caregiver cool and good luck surviving the summer sun! How do you protect your loved ones from the heat?
Photo Credit: Amy Goyer