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How to Summer-Proof an Elderly Loved One’s Home

Summer temperatures in Northern California often reach and exceed 90 degrees. Fortunately, you can shield a home from seasonal hazards. Here’s how to prep the house to keep your aging loved one safe during summer.

Seniors are predisposed to overheating for several reasons. Impaired circulation reduces the ability to perspire, and the problem is further compromised by chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Diuretics, sedatives, and Parkinson’s medications may also lead to decreased sweating in older adults. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality non-medical home care. Sacramento families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

he brain controls temperature regulation and releases hormones that trigger sweating. Due to cognitive decline in aging adults, the functional capacity of the sweating mechanism may decrease. Symptoms of overheating include:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle cramping
  • Ankle swelling
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Intense thirst
  • Clammy skin

Overheating can lead to heat stroke and may be prefaced by confusion, vertigo, fever, flushed skin, staggering, or an abnormal pulse. A senior undergoing heat stroke must receive urgent medical care, as it can result in a coma. Here are a few home modifications that may keep seniors comfortable in the summer.

Seal Air Leaks and Create Shade

Cracks and gaps are signs of damaged sealing materials that need to be replaced with caulking to reduce air leakage around windows and doors. 

The US Department of Energy recommends installing awnings, which can reduce heat by 77 percent on west-facing windows and 65 percent on south-facing windows. Awnings can shade individual windows or the entire side of a senior’s house. Those made of acrylic and polyvinyl laminates can repel water and resist fading. Install light-colored awnings in your loved one’s home because they reflect more sunlight than dark coverings.

Install and Service Cooling Appliances

Hire an electrician to install ceiling fans during summertime, and don’t forget to set the blades to run counterclockwise because circulating air this way pushes it downward for a cooling effect. Dust the blades every few months so the fans don’t spread dirt through the air.

Hire an HVAC technician to install and service air conditioning units by cleaning the coils and filters. To save electricity, buy appliances displaying the blue Energy Star label. Ask the repairman to clean household dryer vents because clogged pipes and louvers prevent dryer heat from vacating the house and may also pose a fire hazard. 

If your loved one has an attic, make sure the insulation and ventilation are adequate. Cool an attic by keeping its windows open and installing an attic fan. Floor and table fans also provide a measure of cooling. If fans have snap-off covers, remove them and wipe the blades with a damp cloth. To keep blades from wobbling while spinning, make sure the fan’s center bolt is tight.

Affix Window Treatments

Install blinds in your loved one’s home, which may reduce the amount of sunlight by 45 percent. Drapes can block sunlight and diffuse heat through their pleats. White plastic linings facing the sun reduce heat penetration by 33 percent. Keep window treatments fully closed during hot summer days.

Mesh window screens diffuse solar radiation. If your aging loved one keeps screens on year-round, clean them by lightly vacuuming with a soft brush attachment.

Providing care to an aging loved one can be truly rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Family caregivers sometimes need a break from their caregiving responsibilities. When they need respite care, Sacramento families can rely on professional caregivers to help their senior loved ones remain safe at home.

Avoid Generating Additional Heat

Prepare your senior loved one’s food with a microwave rather than a cooking range. Swap incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent options. When electrical devices aren’t in use, unplug them because they continue drawing current and emitting heat.

Ward Off Foraging Insects

Bugs are more prevalent during summer than other seasons. Avoid tempting insects by making food inaccessible and encouraging your loved one to eat at the table rather than in bed or seated on the couch. Seal holes in window screens with clear nail polish or screen patches.

Boric acid is a natural alternative to commercial pesticides. The following household preparation kills ants, carpet beetles, centipedes, cockroaches, earwigs, fleas, palmetto bugs, scorpions, silverfish, slugs, termites, and water bugs. Measure out a 50:50 mixture of boric acid and white sugar. Pour into an empty, clean condiment squeeze bottle. Dispense the mixture along baseboards, windowsills, and under the refrigerator, range, and dishwasher. 

For cupboards, apply the powder to paper slips and place them on shelves without touching food. Treat carpets by sprinkling with powder and brushing it into the fibers. Let it sit for one week, then vacuum. It takes time for insects to bring the bait to their nests and for colonies to die out. Do not use boric acid in the home if children or pets are present, as ingestion is toxic to them as well.

You can also hire a green pest control company to eradicate insects through eco-friendly options such as pheromone traps, fly lights, sticky boards, insect growth regulators, and repellents made of pyrethrum flowers and silica gel.

Many families plan vacations during the summer, and family reunions can be overwhelming for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Sacramento seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 916.706.0169 today to learn about how our senior care services can help your loved one.