The elderly are one of the most susceptible groups to heat-related illnesses, especially heat exhaustion they are unable to adjust to sudden temperature changes and often have chronic medical conditions or take medications that affect how their bodies regulate their temperature. Because of this, you and your staff need to take extra precautions to ensure that your adult family home residents do not fall victim to this illness during the hot summer months.
Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion
It is easy to miss the warning signs if you do not know what to look for; therefore, awareness and prevention are crucial to protecting your residents before tragedy strikes. Heat exhaustion often occurs as the result of fluid loss during strenuous activities. Someone suffering from heat exhaustion may be perspiring profusely or have cool moist skin and appear pale or extremely flushed. They may become dizzy and nauseous and develop a bad headache. Disorientation may occur along with a feeling of exhaustion.
If this occurs, the resident needs to be monitored closely and given half a glass of water every 15 minutes to begin rehydration. To cool them down, apply wet cloths to their skin and have them rest in an air-conditioned area or near a fan. If they are unable to drink water or pass out, call 911 immediately.
How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion
There are precautions you can take to protect residents in your adult family home from heat exhaustion. On extremely hot days, avoid strenuous activities such as exercise classes and instead plan activities that require minimal exertion in air-conditioned areas. Suggest that your residents wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing and check on each one continually throughout the day.
Offer frequent beverages such as water or juice throughout the day and avoid serving those that contain caffeine. Adjust the menu for the day by serving lighter and smaller meals, but more often than the normal three meals a day.
Have a contingency plan in place if the power goes out because of the heat. You will want to make sure that you have somewhere for the residents to go to keep cool. This could be an outing to a local mall or movie theater that is air-conditioned.
With the proper precautions and advanced planning, you can prevent tragedy and help the residents in your adult family home weather the extreme heat without falling victim to heat exhaustion.