Memorial Day weekend feels like the symbolic start to summer. Many of us will join neighbors and friends for cookouts, take a long weekend trip or make our first seasonal visit to the beach or pool. Memories of summer may stand out in our minds as idyllic times. It is a wonderful time to talk about summer memories with your family members and share some of your favorite summer traditions, activities and dishes. On the other hand, summer can bring some challenges for elders. We encourage you to enjoy the summer safely with this review of seasonal issues for seniors and caregivers.
Medications and certain medical conditions reduce the body’s ability to deal with heat. Deyhdration is also a common problem among the elderly. Follow these heat safety tips:
- Know the signs of heat-related illness and seek immediate help if you spot them. Be aware of dehydration and encourage fluid consumption (check with your medical professional on specifics and offer a variety of liquids/flavored waters for those who don’t like water).
- Check in (or make plans to have someone check in) on elderly relatives and friends regularly, especially during heat waves.
- Have a maintenance review on cooling systems. For those who do not have air conditioning, use fans and/or consider a portable unit.
- Make plans for indoor activities and do not go out during the primary heat of the day. Consider movie theaters, malls, libraries and other public cooled spaces as potential refuges from the heat.
EasyLiving home caregivers can help with everything from planning indoor activities to checking in on the safety and wellbeing of your loved one. Check out our Indoor Activity Ideas for Elders and Caregivers.
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
For those of us in areas prone to tropical storms, it is essential to prepare now. Seniors and caregivers need to take special precautions and understand the ramifications even minor storms can have on people with special needs. EasyLiving offers a Senior Hurricane Preparedness Resources page with checklists (for you and your pets), links and contact information for county, state and federal resources.
Do not underestimate the potential dangers of tropical storms and hurricanes. Understand that services and supplies may be cut off for weeks after a storm. Senior care services might be limited and homes may be without electricity (and therefore, air conditioning) for some time.
As a caregiver, you may not feel it is possible to take a vacation. Rest and self-care is vital to keeping healthy so you can be there for your “caree”. You may also need to travel for family events and find it troublesome to leave the person you care for alone. Even if your loved one lives in an assisted living facility or has home health care help, you probably do a lot to advocate and oversee the care and worry about what would happen in your absence.
Check out our article Summer Vacations for Caregivers: Are They Possible? and download our free checklist to prepare for respite care. If you take these steps, you will find that it is possible to get a break while ensuring your loved one has the care he/she needs. You should consider the value of hiring a geriatric care manager to serve as an advocate, working alongside you to ensure the best for your loved one and provide oversight when you are away.
Snowbird Support Systems
In Florida and many other areas, there are large populations of seasonal residents. Elders who rely on neighbors and friends may find their support systems have gone north for summer and may struggle with practical needs as well as loneliness and isolation.
This is one reason it can be useful to create a diverse “care team” and investigate services and options. While it is wonderful when neighbors are willing to help, it is easy to slip into a pattern of being too dependent on them. Not only do neighbors sometimes go north or take extended vacations, but they may also have their own personal and health issues to manage.
- Check out what services are available in the local area.
- Consider hiring a caregiver to help with errands, but also as a means of support and an extra set of “eyes and ears”. Some elders are more open to “hiring a driver” or having someone prepare meals or do errands, rather than feeling that they need help or someone checking on them.
- Out-of-town relatives might also want to make plans to visit during summer months when support tends to dwindle.
Senior Travel Tips
It might be a good time of year to plan for your loved one to come visit your family and enjoy some time with the grandchildren. Many families also enjoy traveling together which can create wonderful family memories. Just remember to plan wisely when an older loved one is traveling. Here are a few basic senior travel tips:
- Consider your loved one’s needs and abilities in logistics. Plan rest time and think about which trip options may be most comfortable or easiest given the circumstances.
- Pack medications and snacks in carry-on luggage. Bring an extra copy of your loved one’s medication list and medical professionals’ contact information (or store in an online system if you can access it while traveling).
- Plan bathroom breaks. If your loved one needs physical help, consider who will assist and the logistics. In some cases, hiring a caregiver to accompany the elder may be the wisest and most dignified choice if possible.
- If your loved one would be traveling alone, make plans as straightforward as possible such as booking direct flights. Remember, a lot can go awry when traveling so it may be best to have a family member or companion accompany elders on the journey (particularly anyone with memory problems, mobility issues or acute medical issues).
- Check with your doctor about medical clearance to travel and any possible concerns. Find out how/where you can access medical assistance on the trip.
Need help with senior safety, local oversight or travel companionship? Give us a call at 727-447-5845 or 813-333-5020 to discuss how EasyLiving home caregivers can help!