Summer is a wonderful time of year. Kids are at camp and 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 more than 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. For 2012 cases, half of heat-related victims were age 65 and older, and 72% were male. Three-fourths of the time, the victims were unmarried or lived alone.
The CDC believes seniors are more prone to heat stress than younger people for a few 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 hope for seniors. “Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable,” said lead author Ethel Taylor, DVM, MPH, researcher who works with the CDC. “Taking steps to stay cool, hydrated and informed in extreme temperatures can prevent serious health effects like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”
Often times, affected elders did not have air conditioning. Those without access to cool air should be check in on and moved to a public cooling station or location, such as a library.
Many Eldercare Providers are using VoiceFriend’s sophisticated, yet easy-to-use 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 on their own.
Hebrew Senior Life, a leading provider of Senior Living and Skilled Nursing Communities in Roslindale, MA,, uses the VoiceFriend solution to send reminders to seniors to take precautions during the summer heat. Marjorie Glincher, executive director, explains, “An automated reminder can be an impactful solution for isolated or vulnerable seniors. It can truly be a life saver.”
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 [email protected] VoiceFriend is the leader in providing messaging services for eldercare communities. For more information on solutions to reduce cost of care, improve resident and family satisfaction and improve prospect conversion rates, please contact VoiceFriend at 781-996-3123 or email us at [email protected]