Posted on Aug 08, 2013
Even though it feels like 90 degrees –plus- inside the house, our elderly mother may give the most unbelievable response, “No, it feels fine to me.”
Hydration is much ignored to the detriment of our health and the health of our seniors.
Often, when visiting our parents, during the hot summer months, we are greeted with a wave of hot air. It even feels warmer inside the home than it does outside under the carport. It feels like a sauna. We are already sweating the first five minutes we are in the home.
We ask our parents “Mom…Dad, aren’t you hot?”
Even though it feels like 90 degrees plus inside the house, our elderly mother may give the most unbelievable response, “No, it feels fine to me.”
Mind you, she may even look flushed, disoriented, and has problems with her balance when she gets up to greet you and the kids. At the first touch, her skin is clammy and she is not perspiring. Dad stays put letting mom deal with the questions. He looks just as flushed and haggard. These are symptoms that should raise concerns.
We wonder about mom’s nonchalant answer, realizing that this is mom and dad’s home, and there may be limitations as to how we may want to respond. However, while the grandchildren give their hugs and greetings, some more daring daughters and sons will surreptitiously, walk over to the temperature gauge and notice that the automatic air system is on but has been set at 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we promptly press the button to lower the temperature to check and see it the air conditioning unit is actually working.
You then find out that mom and dad have had their breakfast at 7:30 am, and it is now 11:30 am. The only liquid consumed was their one cup of coffee, but the glasses of water on the kitchen table have not even been touched. Their meds were taken, but downed with a gulp of lukewarm coffee, you find out later. It is summer, your parents are hot, and are not drinking enough fluids.
The CDC, and National Institutes of Health have copious data and studies showing the relationship of dehydration to constipation, increased falls, confusion, and even some instances of UTIs (urinary tract infections), among others problems affecting our senior population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the senior population (65 years and over) do not adjust well to sudden temperature changes. In addition, some of their chronic illnesses, along with some of their medications could affect the way their bodies adjust to temperature changes.
The CDC recommends that seniors should be visited twice a day to check for signs of heat exhaustion or heat-related stress symptoms.
Encourage seniors to drink plenty of fluids (drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of activity)
If conditions necessitate it, transport the person to an air-conditioned area to cool down.