Getting Help to Cool a Senior’s Home
It’s summer and it is hot out there! If you are a senior or a caregiver for a senior, you need an air conditioner to cool a senior’s home and live comfortably when the temperature hits the upper ‘90’s.
Elderly people are more vulnerable to the dangers of high temperatures. They do not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature. They are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change normal responses to heat. Also, seniors are more likely to take prescriptions which make them vulnerable to heat-related diseases. Diuretics which affect water balance, psychotropic medications which affect behavior and understanding and medications which affect perspiration can cause a greater risk when someone gets overheated.
In high temperatures, electric fans may provide some comfort at home, but do not sufficiently cool a senior’s home to prevent heat-related illness. Even a few hours of air conditioning during the hottest times of the day will considerably reduce that risk. If the senior does not or cannot keep the home a comfortable temperature, then take them to a senior center, a mall, or a public library for a few hours. During the long, hot summer months, daily attendance at an adult day care center or a senior center program could provide air conditioning and attention to their needs during the day, and keep them out of danger from heat.
Caregivers should check on the elderly when the temperature is high.
- Be sure that the temperature in the home is comfortable.
- Make certain that they are drinking fluids like water, not alcoholic beverages.
- Be sure that they can cool down with a cool shower or bath, or even just a spray bottle of ice cold water.
- Make sure that they have an air conditioner that works efficiently and that it is turned on where they are in the home during the hottest part of the day.
- Check their fridge to see if they have ice and cool beverages there, and some meal choices that don’t require heating up the whole house.
Cooling assistance programs are federally funded programs operated by local government agencies which help people in need to control the temperature of the home in the summer. Low-income seniors age 60 and older, persons who have a disability or a health condition, or persons who have a child under age 6 will qualify for assistance through these programs. Such assistance can help the resident with their electric bills, or with a repair bill for an air conditioner. If a client does not have a working air conditioner, the program may provide a window unit.
To find such programs in your community, you should contact agencies such as:
- Your electric company, which probably can reduce your payments seasonally;
- The Area Agency on Aging;
- The County or City health department;
- A local senior center.
For more about the dangers of heat for the elderly, see the CDC website about Heat Stress in Older Adults.
Don’t let a senior sweat it out in a sweltering home. Heat-related diseases are too risky for seniors. Make a call to get help to cool a senior’s home if needed.
Take action to find a cool solution for that senior’s hot home.