Help the Elderly Prepare for Summer MonthsPosted: May 19, 2014
When you think of taking care of an aging parent or friend, the first thing that may come to mind is helping with meals, errands, doctors visits, etc. Those that have stepped into the shoes of being a caretaker understand that there is a lot more to it – you take on the responsibility of home maintenance and repairs – and specifically, the air conditioning system.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 400 Americans die each year to heat related conditions, and nearly half f them are elderly. They are at greater risk for heat stress or stroke risk due to several factors.
- Their bodies do not adjust as easily to sudden changes in temperature.
- They are more likely to have medical conditions such as heart, lung and kidney disease. Other medical issues that increase their risk are high blood pressure and diabetes.
- They may take medications that render them more susceptible to the heat. Some medications are known to inhibit perspiration which leaves them even more vulnerable in hot weather.
- Age related dementia – they may simply forget to turn on the air conditioning, or may not realize if it is not functioning properly.
- Isolation – some may not have friends or family members who check in on them regularly.
- Cost – being on fixed incomes, some seniors may be reluctant to use the air conditioning, believing that the use of electric fans will be sufficient – and they are not. While possibly providing a breeze, they do nothing to eliminate the extreme humidity we face in Georgia.
The fact is, heat related illness and deaths are 100% preventable; and according to the CDC, air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat related illness and death. So – making sure air conditioning systems are in good working order before the summer sets in order should be a top priority.