"Heat Helpers" Aids Local Seniors Who Ignore Heat Warnings

Caregivers check on elderly in brutal heat

July 14, 2011 // Franchising.com // A deadly heat wave is melting most of the country but as it turns out, many senior citizens, most vulnerable to the heat, may be ignoring the warnings. A study out of Kent State University shows 90 percent of respondents over the age of 65 were aware of heat warnings, but most seniors thought the messages were targeted toward "older Americans," a group to which they did not think they belonged.* That's why Senior Helpers, one of the largest in-home providers for seniors in the nation, has started a program called "Heat Helpers," caregivers who come to the home to keep the elderly safe in this sweltering summer.

"Nobody wants to admit they can't deal with extreme heat like they used to. That's why it's so important to have someone check on your elderly loved one when you can't be there," says Peter Ross, CEO and founder of Senior Helpers, one of our nation's leading national in-home senior care providers with a "Heat Helpers" in your town. "Heat safety has changed… from new FDA guidelines on sunscreen to health recommendations for water intake seniors need to stay hydrated. It often takes an extra set of eyes and ears to make sure seniors are doing everything they can to stay protected."

How Senior Helpers' "Heat Helpers" Works:

Senior Helpers caregivers come to the senior's home to help them with daily activities like cleaning, cooking and yard work, which may be too strenuous in these brutal temps. Caregivers also make sure seniors are taking proper precautions to beat the heat.

  • Stay well hydrated – Caregivers remind seniors to drink water throughout the course of the day, even if they're not particularly thirsty. As adults continue to age, the amount of water retained by the body decreases substantially.
  • Maintaining a cool environment – Caregivers close blinds and curtains keeping the house cool, even in triple digit temperatures. Caregivers also have battery operated/hand-held fans readily available to keep their seniors comfortable. Most seniors are budget-conscious, so it's important for caregivers to be sure the AC is set to a proper, cool level and it's working. Caregivers can also be responsible to check filters once a month.
  • Stay in air conditioning in the afternoon – The hottest part of the day is from 3-5 p.m. Caregivers provide inside activities like playing cards, going to movies or the mall to keep seniors active inside to avoid spending time outside during the most dangerous hours of the day.
  • Eat plenty, but eat light – Caregivers prepare light food because heavy foods, like meat and cheese, tend to make the body work harder to digest, using more water and generating more body heat .
  • Follow new sunscreen guidelines – Caregivers are well versed on the FDA's newly released guidelines about sun protection. Seniors are more prone to sunburn because their bodies have less water. Caregivers educate seniors about these new regulations such as there's no such thing as "sweat proof" or "water proof" sunscreen. Or that you must re-apply sunscreen every two hours for it to work effectively (new guidelines listed at the bottom of the release).
  • Copies of health care information - In the event of an emergency, caregivers can have copies of senior's prescriptions, health insurance card, and phone numbers of health care providers on-hand.

"We want to do everything we can to make sure our seniors don't make heat headlines," says Ross. "Even if your elderly loved ones say they're staying safe in the heat, it's always a good idea to have someone check up on them."

Tell this story with local seniors, "Heat Helpers" caregivers and local senior care experts.

*http://sheridan.geog.kent.edu/pubs/2006-IJB.pdf

Sources: American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Journal of Public Health, American Medical Student Association

What We've Learned From the FDA's New Sunscreen Guidelines:

  • There is no such thing as "sweatproof" and "waterproof" sunscreens. These words are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels.
  • Sunscreens can claim to be "water resistant" but the company has to put a label on their product stating the sunscreen only offers 40 or 80 minutes of protection while swimming or sweating.
  • You must re-apply sunscreen every two hours for continued sun protection.
  • Use sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection, also known as "broad spectrum" protection.
  • Only broad spectrum sunscreens with 15 SPF or higher provide any type of sun protection (15 – 30 SPF is recommended).

About Senior Helpers:

Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has 300 franchises in 39 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, please visit www.seniorhelpers.com.

Did You Know?

  • Every year since 1998, more people die from extreme heat in the U.S. than from floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, combined.
  • Heat waves are often called the "silent epidemic" or the "invisible natural disaster."
  • Unlike natural disasters that have wreaked visible, violent havoc this summer, heat waves often strike victims within the confines of their homes.
  • To top it off, the American Medical Student Association finds that the general public perceives heat waves as uncomfortable and inconvenient instead of life threatening.

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