If your elderly parent has moved into your home, you likely have a lot on your mind while trying to take care of your normal routine and incorporate your parent into that routine, especially during the summer.
One of the things you should take into consideration is the effect of extreme heat on the health of your parent. Heat can cause a variety of health-related complications for the elderly, which means you need to ensure that your parent remains as cool as possible.
Making sure your parent stays at a comfortable and safe temperature that can be difficult when your air conditioner isn’t working properly. Now that you have you’re responsible for the health and welfare of your elderly parent, take a preventative measure to schedule an appointment to ensure that your air conditioner is functioning properly. To show you why this is so important, here are five of the ways that heat adversely affects the elderly.
1. Heat-Related Illnesses
You probably know that heat-related illnesses are a real concern when you spend extended hours out in the sun. However, heat risk exists inside the home, as well and is even more significant for the elderly.
Some of the heat-related illnesses that can affect the elderly include heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat syncope. To avoid these illnesses, your parent should be kept in a well-cooled environment during the summer.
2. Increased Risk of Dementia
If your home is too hot during the summer, your parent may experience sleep difficulties. In fact, most people tend to experience sleep problems during episodes of extreme heat. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can have dire consequences for the elderly.
Studies have shown that reduced episodes of REM sleep increases a person’s risk of developing dementia. Not only that, but if dementia is already present, extreme heat can cause the symptoms to increase.
If you’re responsible for the care of your elderly, a cool home will protect them against the dangers of dehydration. The elderly often experience a decrease in the production of sweat. Not only that, but they tend to drink less water. As a result, exposure to increased heat tends to cause dehydration at a faster rate.
Dehydration in the elderly can lead to decreased kidney function, which can increase the levels of toxins found in the blood. Unfortunately, if your home is without air conditioning, even for a few days, the risk of dehydration increases.
4. Increased Episodes of Agitation
If your home is too hot for your elderly parent, you may find that they experience an increase in episodes of agitation. If your parent has already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the increased agitation can be even more noticeable. To help reduce the episodes of agitation, ensure that your air conditioner provides a cool environment for your parent.
5. Loss of Appetite
As part of the aging process, people often experience a decrease in appetite. Exposure to heat tends to reduce the appetite even further. If your parent already eats less than they should, episodes of extreme heat increases their risk for malnutrition.
Malnutrition can cause additional health-related issues for your parent. One way to ensure a healthy appetite is to keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the summer.
Now that you’re responsible for your elderly parent, take steps to avoid heat-related health problems. Proper air conditioner maintenance is essential where the elderly are concerned. Before you’re faced with a heat-related emergency, have your air conditioner serviced as soon as possible.
If your air conditioner has aged out, talk to your HVAC contractor about a replacement. The steps you take now will ensure a cool, safe summer for your parent. If you’re in the Meridian, ID., area, contact us at Advanced Heating & Cooling.