How eldercare providers can save lives

Bruce Baron
Bruce Baron

Summer is a wonderful time of the year. Beaches, lakes and pools are top of mind for many of us. For most everyone, summer is something to look forward to - for everyone that is, except the elderly.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 7,000 heat related deaths from 1999-2009; most at risk for heat illnesses and death are the elderly, children, the poor or those with pre-existing medical conditions. In 2012, half of the heat related victims were aged 65 and older, and 72% were male. Interestingly, three-fourths of the time, the victims were unmarried or living alone.

  • The CDC believes seniors are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:
  • Elderly people do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature. 
  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat. 
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

There is however some hope for seniors.

"Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Taking steps to stay cool, hydrated and informed in extreme temperatures can prevent serious health effects like heat exhaustion and heat stroke," said lead author Ethel Taylor, a researcher who works with the CDC.

Many providers are using VoiceFriend's sophisticated, user-friendly messaging solutions to send out heat advisories to residents, patients and clients. These simple alerts and reminders have been proven to engage and move seniors to take actions they would not have done so on their own.

At Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, they use the VoiceFriend solution to send reminders to seniors to take precautions during the summer heat. An automated reminder can be a life-saver, executive director Marjorie Glincher.

Summer is a wonderful time of the year. Let's ensure we make it a safe one for seniors.

Bruce Baron is CEO of VoiceFriend. He can be reached at bruce.baron@voicefriend.net.

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