Everyone looks forward to summer. There’s more pool days with the grandkids, adventurous trips to enjoy and plenty more opportunities for outdoor fun. However, as the temperatures rise, so must our awareness for staying safe. With our countless resources at The Arbor Company, we take pride in helping families achieve exactly that and much more.

Francine O’Neil, Senior Vice President of Resident Care at The Arbor Company, joins us in this informative episode, where we dive into the top tips for seniors to stay safe and cool during the warm months.

From checking in with our friends and neighbors regularly to ensuring we wear the proper clothing and consume foods that will keep our bodies hydrated and cramp-free, there is much to cover to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe anytime of day. Enjoy these tips provided by our experts and feel free to reach out to our dedicated senior care team with any additional questions.

Video Transcript

Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Senior Living Live. We are on-site in Canton, Georgia at the beautiful The Arbor at Bridge Mill, and I am so lucky to be joined by Francine O'Neil, who is The Arbor Company's Senior Vice President of Resident Care. Francine, I know you're busy, so thank you so much for sitting down with me.

Of course, Mary Kate. It's my pleasure.

Awesome. And we, we're in Georgia, and so it's very hot. It's the perfect time of the year. It's about to be July, while we're recording this. And so we wanna talk about paying attention to summer heat and what all that entails. So let's kinda kick it off. Obviously, it gets hot, but what do we have to worry about when it comes to being out in the heat, especially for seniors?

Well, you're absolutely right. This time of year, it does get very hot. And right now, we're seeing in the news extreme heat warnings for most of the nation, and it's a very serious concern, especially for seniors. Last year in the United States, twenty three hundred people died from heat related illness, which is really remarkable because it's completely preventable. So when we think about our seniors, it's super important to make sure they have somebody that's kind of watching out for them.

Staying Cool in Summer Heat

First, we wanna make sure they have a cool place to live. So air conditioning, right? Making sure the air conditioner is being maintained and that it's set at about seventy five degrees. We don't wanna set it down to, like, sixty five or sixty seven because we're going to run that thing and it's liable to quit on us. So a nice seventy five degrees is fine. Staying hydrated, encouraging them to drink water every hour, get them a nice, you know, water drinking container that they can fill with ice and keep in the fridge, to stay hydrated. Encourage them if they're going to be outside. You know, we have a lot of seniors that have pets. They wanna walk their dog or they enjoy gardening or their walkers. Super important to do this during early morning, before the sun is up and really blazing, or in the evening when it's a little bit cooler.

Early Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Seniors

Absolutely. What are some early signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for families and even seniors to keep an eye out for?

Great question. So there's all different types of what we call heat related illnesses, and if you think about it, you know, it starts mild and then it progresses. So mild heat related illness would be something like, heat cramps. So this is when your muscles start to tighten up and you just feel achy and maybe you're getting a little weak and you're starting to perspire a lot. You might feel a little dizzy, that's like the first stage of warning sign. I need to get into a cool place. I need to sit down, drink some water, maybe take a cool shower or pat myself down with a cool rag. Okay?

The next level is heat exhaustion. Now we're getting, you know, a little bit more seriously ill. We're heavily perspiring. Pulse might be what we call bounding and rapid, so you have a very fast and strong heartbeat, you might feel nauseated. You might start to feel light headed, and so forth. So again, get into a cool place, rest, start hydrating. If your symptoms persist for an hour, you need to seek medical attention, okay? Heat stroke is the most serious, and this happens when people are sitting outside and don't realize how hot it is, maybe they don't have enough shade or they're not wearing a hat or they have heavy clothing on, and this is when your body temperature reaches a hundred and four degrees. So think about the worst fever you've ever had, right? So now you've got a horrible high body temperature, your system actually starts shutting down. You might even stop perspiring at that point. Okay? This is where you might have somebody that faints or loses consciousness. This is very serious. Immediately call nine one one and get them medical attention.

The Importance of Hydration in Seniors

Absolutely. You talked a little bit about staying hydrated in our big water jugs. My favorite. Nice forty ounces to carry around with you. What are some other ways to stay hydrated in the heat? Mhmm.

Well, this is so important for seniors, just hydration in general, because, you know, these folks, they're not our generation. We drink water all the time. That's our thing. We all have our water bottles, and we're on the go, and, you know, we keep track of how much water we drink. It's part of our health and wellness plan. But, you know, they need to be reminded to drink, and we need to make it a little more interesting. So we can, provide, fruit infused waters, decaffeinated flavored tea. We wanna avoid caffeine drinks. We wanna avoid soda. We don't want sugary drinks. So we want to try to stick with the water. In terms of, food, there's lots of food that we can enjoy, especially in the summer, like fresh watermelon or cantaloupe, cucumbers. So think about foods that are rich in water, and those make great snacks for seniors.

Yeah. That makes it easy. Kind of cheating. Right? Tricking yourself into drinking water. Right. Right.


Medications and Heat Sensitivity

So, you know, obviously, as we age, we end up taking medications, being put on medications. Can certain medications, make seniors more susceptible to heat sensitivity?

Yes. So this is one of the reasons that seniors are at greater risk for heat related illness. Not only do they have chronic conditions that might impact their body's ability to regulate temperature even under normal conditions, but they're also taking medication. So diuretics, like a Lasix, that's a water pill. Okay? And that pill is designed to pull excess fluid out of your body. Diabetes medications, other heart medications, blood pressure medications, these can all impact your body's ability to really manage water. Now if your doctor has advised you to limit the amount of fluid you drink, for example, people with chronic kidney disease might have to keep track of their intake, you should call your doctor and ask them when it's very hot, how much water can I drink?

Yeah. Absolutely. We taught, we've you already did such a great job of kinda explaining the different levels of heat illness and what to do. But is there anything else you wanna add, you know, if a senior or a caregiver starts suspecting that there might be some heat related issues going on, you know, what, what should they, what's that first thing they should do?

Taking Action in Extreme Heat

Well, first, I think they if they're alone, they should call someone and ask them to come over. But they should get themselves into an air-conditioned space, start drinking water, take a cool shower. If they're not light headed or dizzy, get yourself into the shower and just lukewarm water, you know, to cool. We don't wanna put ice water on ourselves, but, start to get yourself cooled down. And again, kind of look at your watch, what time did I start feeling sick? Am I starting to feel better or am I not feeling better? I think that's all really important. And just kind of, you know, we can provide seniors with lots of reminders. Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothing if you go outside. Wear a hat, wear sunscreen. If you get sunburned, it's much more difficult to keep your body cool, right, because your skin is burning and you're hot. Avoid alcoholic beverages because those dehydrate you. If you, if you want to exercise, if you're looking for places to go, you can go to an air conditioned mall and walk. If your air goes out, seek shelter in an air conditioned space. There's public libraries. Call the health department. They're gonna set up cooling centers. It right now, they will for sure because of these extreme temperatures. Make sure you're prepared for a power outage. During extreme weather, sometimes there's rolling blackouts, sometimes there's just blackouts because of the strain on the power grid with everybody having their air conditioners on. So have a plan if your power goes out. You know, where are you gonna go? Who's gonna help you get there to be in a cool place?

Yeah. Super important. Mhmm. Especially yeah. Like you said, in these bigger cities, you know, thing things can get very interesting very quickly with the heat. This has all been so fascinating. Before I let you go, what do you think is the most important thing to remember about safely beating the heat?

I think it's hydration, you know. Staying hydrated helps us with so many things. It keeps our mind clear. You know, we stay focused. It's gonna keep you from having a headache. It's gonna keep you from feeling weak and dizzy. So I would just say that's the number one thing. Keep yourself hydrated and avoid being outside for long periods of time. We know we all need to go out for something. You know, you might have to run an errand, make sure you turn the air conditioner on in your car, you know, and take your time. Don't don't rush if you have to be outside. Just, you know, don't exert yourself and, you know, that's gonna make your metabolism go up and that's gonna raise your core temperature a little bit. So, you know, avoid strenuous activities, but stay hydrated. That's the most important tip I have for today, Mary Kate.

Absolutely. Well, you heard it here. Go get your water jugs. Francine, thank you so much. I know you're incredibly busy, so we really appreciate you taking the time today.

My pleasure. My pleasure, Mary Kate.

Absolutely. Well, everybody, if you are interested in seeing more videos just like this one, you can go to senior living live dot com. And if you're interested in learning more about this beautiful community, The Arbor at Bridge Mill, you can go to arborbridgemill.com. Bye everybody. Bye.

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