Having a "Heat Intervention" With a Senior

Julia Little  |  August 16, 2011

Older couple togetherIt's high summer, which means high temperatures and little relief from a glaring sun and constant humidity in many parts of the country. While sweating the day away can be a nuisance for most Americans, heat can prove to be a dangerous risk for seniors, who are more prone to dehydration and heat stroke.

That's why it's important for families who are involved in senior care to be vigilant of an older adult during the summer, particularly because around half of people age 85 and older have some form of dementia, according to ABC 7.

Elderly parents should be reminded of the dangers of heat whenever possible. Medications can make it much more likely for them to suffer from dizzy spells and dehydration.

"Most of our seniors are a little in denial about how serious the heat is," caregiving expert Wendy Johnson told the news station. She explained that professional caregivers often have to perform "heat interventions" with many seniors, which can mean "literally walking in and turning on the AC and taking off the robe and the blanket."

These cases of self-neglect are dangerous, but many seniors who do not suffer from dementia can also find it difficult to beat the heat. In these cases, they may be too stubborn to ask for assistance.

"Nobody wants to admit they can’t deal with extreme heat like they used to. That’s why it's so important to have someone check on your elderly loved one when you can’t be there," caregiver expert Peter Ross told HealthNewsDigest.com.

While seniors who reside at assisted living facilities can benefit from regular check-ins from staff, as well as nearby health facilities, older adults who are living alone don't have these resources. A number are unable to afford AC and try to stay cool by keeping a fan running and the shades down.

If you're thinking of having your own heat intervention, try to think of how you'll talk to a parent about the dangers of the weather. Maybe families could come together and purchase an air conditioner for an older adult's home or encourage a loved one to move in with an adult child for the summer.

Additionally, try thinking of places such as libraries, malls or movie theaters, where air conditioning is a safe bet and older adults will enjoy spending their time.  

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