Summer has finally arrived, bringing with it sun, vacation time and, of course, heat waves. Every year, heat waves lead to the hospitalization of many seniors, who are particularly at risk of suffering the adverse effects of the heat. Unfortunately, we have no power over the weather. But, you can help your loved one cope more effectively with these periods of extreme heat.
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast so you can plan your activities accordingly;
- Save outdoor activities for cooler times of the day;
- Keep the physical environment as cool as possible:
- Use air conditioning or a fan;
- Close the curtains to keep out the heat;
- Prepare meals that do not need to be cooked in the oven.
- If your place is very warm, spend a few hours in a cool or air conditioned location (e.g., shopping mall, grocery store or pharmacy). Take cool showers or place a cold washcloth on your neck;
- If you don’t live with the person you take care of, make sure that you stop by daily to ensure that all is well;
- Stay properly hydrated:
- Ensure that you drink water regularly and offer it to your loved one;
- Leave a glass near the sink to remind yourself to drink water;
- Choose fruits and vegetables that contain water.
Older people take longer to feel thirst and are more vulnerable to dehydration. - Dre Diana Cruz, physician at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.
Recognizing the signs
When the weather is hot, pay special attention to the following signs:
- Dizziness or fainting;
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Rapid breathing or rapid heart rate;
- Extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva);
- Less frequent urination and urine that is unusually dark yellow in colour.
If in doubt about the need to seek medical attention, do not hesitate to call 811.
What to do in case s of heat stroke
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If your loved one’s body temperature is high and your loved one is unconscious, confused or no longer sweating, call 911 immediately.
While waiting for the paramedics, cool down your loved one by applying cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing and fanning your loved one. If you can, help the person move somewhere cooler.