Utility Assistance to Help Seniors Stay Cool
Are you ready for some hot days this summer? How about the high cost of cooling your home? Elderly and disabled persons are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. Keeping the home cool is necessary to avoid health problems. Heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration and heat-stroke, are quite serious for the elderly and disabled. Elderly people are not able to make the bodily adjustments to high temperatures that younger people can manage.
Medications and high temperatures cause more stress for people. For example, seniors who take diuretics are at risk because of low water balance when temperatures are hot. Medications that affect perspiration can make seniors vulnerable during the summer. Some common prescription medications are risky when users take them and then spend hours in the sunlight. Read the warnings on your medications to find out more about what to avoid.
Anyone who spends summer days outdoors or in environments which are not air-conditioned should be careful to drink water regularly and to wear loose, light-colored clothing to protect them from heat exhaustion and heat-stroke. Alcohol and highly sugared drinks are no substitute for drinking water.
Spending the hottest hours of the day under air conditioning can make a big difference in the health and well-being of a vulnerable senior. Fans don’t really cool the air enough to cool one’s body temperature when it’s hot outside.
Please check on elderly friends and neighbors who live alone to see that they have adequate air conditioning in at least one cool area of their homes this summer. Encourage them to visit air conditioned stores, public libraries, or senior centers if their home is not cool enough during the hottest times of the day.
Help with Utilities
If you need utility assistance in staying cool this summer, there are programs which can help with electric bills, or will repair or donate air conditioners. There are programs especially for low income seniors over 60 and for people who have children under age 6 at home.
To locate such programs in your area, contact these organizations:
- Your local electric company
- The Area Agency on Aging;
- Local seniors’ center;
- City or state health department.
To learn more about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses see the website of the Center for Disease Control
Thinking of a little “pool-time” as a way to stay cool?
Head over to our article Seniors at the Pool to review of a few safety considerations.