By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
With the heat index expected to climb above 100 today and tomorrow here in Illinois, here are a few tips for older adults on dealing with heat during the Dog Days of Summer.
Take the Heat Seriously
High temperatures, especially when combined with very high humidity levels, should be of concern, particularly to older adults.
The National Weather Service says that Heat was the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the United States in 2010 (click here to view the graph) Older adults and children have the highest risks for heat-related illness and deaths.
According to information posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website. Older adults are more at risk for three key reasons:
· Older adults do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature.
· Older adults are more likely to have a chronic medical condition.
· Older adults are more likely to be taking medication that impairs the body’s ability to regulate temperature or inhibits perspiration.
The CDC encourages us to visit at risk older adults at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Other tips include the following:
· Drink plenty of water, regardless of activity, even if you are not thirsty.
· Avoid heavy meals and alcohol.
· Take cool baths or showers. Ice bags and wet towels also can be helpful.
Air conditioning can do more than help you stay cool; it can be a lifesaver. The Keep Cool Illinois website has a list of cooling centers that are available throughout the state. Click here to find a cooling center near you. During heat emergencies, older adults can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 for assistance in locating buildings that serve as cooling centers.
To cool off during heat emergencies, we also invite you to visit a BMA Senior Living Community near you. We have 34 communities located throughout Illinois. For a map of where our communities are located, click here.
One of the included amenities that takes on so much added importance at our communities when heat warnings and advisories are in effect is air conditioning. The cost of utilities such as air conditioning is included in the monthly fee for the senior living and assisted living apartments that we manage.
In addition, in our assisted living and affordable assisted living communities, certified staff members are on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Conducting a daily welfare check on each resident is just one of their responsibilities.
An emergency response system comes standard with each assisted living and affordable assisted apartment, and three restaurant-style meals each day are among the included services. Snacks and beverages are available whenever the dining room is not open.
For more information on heat and older adults and tips on what you can do to protect yourself and others, here are a couple of resource websites that you might want to visit:
Baylor College of Medicine
Tips Help Seniors Beat the Heat ← click
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Heat Stress in the Elderly ← click
Heat Illness (aka – Sunstroke) ← click
For those of you who didn’t already know, the name the Dog Days of Summer, which is given to that period of time from early July through mid-August in the northern hemisphere, stems from an ancient belief about the star Sirius. Sirius also is know as the “Dog Star.” During the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. In ancient times, people believed that the heat from Sirius combined with the heat from the sun was what caused the hot and muggy weather.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.
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