With the temperatures starting to climb for the summer months, it becomes more difficult to prepare hot foods, appetites decline, and actions become sluggish. As we age, our bodies lose their ability to regulate temperature as easily as it used to, so seniors may not realize they’re in danger of heat stroke or other heat-related illness. Knowing the difference between Heat Exhaustion (need to cool off & rest) and Heat Stroke (life-threatening) to determine if a senior needs immediate medical attention or simply needs help cooling off is vital for a caregiver:
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion: headache, blurred vision, nausea, upset stomach, ashen appearance, low blood pressure, vomiting, sluggishness, fatigue, thirst, rapid weak heartbeat, profuse sweating and moderate increase in body temperature.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke: headache, dizziness, elevated or lowered blood pressure, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, fatigue, seizures, hot dry skin, fainting, loss of consciousness, increased body temperature, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations.
Excessive heat makes all of our bodies work harder, so if you’re a caregiver, why not make it a bit easier on our elderly friends & family? Here are some tips you can use to ensure seniors are receiving the nutrition they need while staying hydrated:
- Create some pre-made healthy snacks—cut up some fruit and vegetables in ready-to-eat small portions. Celery, cucumbers, green peppers, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries are full of water to ensure seniors are staying hydrated as well as being nutritious.
- Prepare ahead of time some light meals that are pre-cooked, just needs reheated, so they don’t have to stand in front of a hot oven to cook. Include some lean proteins for energy.
- Prepare ahead of time some smoothies to replace meals if your senior doesn’t feel like eating. Be sure to add spinach (for protein) and light yogurt instead of ice cream, which not provide any nutritional benefit.
- If it’s difficult to get your friend or family member to drink plain water, consider some flavored waters, teas, or juices. However, limit the caffeine intake as that can dehydrate a person!
- Set aside some loose fitting, light clothes so not to restrict a senior’s movement and to make them feel more comfortable in higher temperatures.
- Limit sun exposure during 10am & 3pm
- If the person is over-heated, apply cool water to the skin and fan the wet skin. You can also apply ice cubes wrapped in a towel to the head, neck, & arm pits to cool down faster.
- If there is no air conditioning available, consider purchasing a fan for their room, and encourage the person to lie down & rest.
These tips are meant as guidelines and not to be taken as medical advice. Please seek immediate medical attention if your senior is experiencing heat-related issues. And feel free to let us know if we can provide personalized in-home health care for your loved one! Stay safe and have a fun summer!
Article Credits: Easy Living: http://www.easylivingfl.com/tips-snacks-and-senior-meal-preparation-for-good-summer-nutrition/