We're finally getting into everyone's favourite time of year – summer! That means spending more time outside, enjoying Australia's many brilliant beaches and parks, or just enjoying the comforts of your backyard pool.
However, summer isn't all fun and games – the heat can actually be a stifling killer, especially for senior citizens. Heatwaves are responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 people over the age of 65 every year, according to the Climate Institute of Australia. They also expect Australia to get hotter by at least two degrees Celsius by 2030, significantly increasing the average number of days over 35 degrees.
As more seniors are staying in their homes for longer, thanks to in home care packages, this means we have to ensure those homes are equipped to handle the Australian heat as well. Here are a few simple, but effective tips you can follow to improve your loved one's home during the summer.
Australian summer safety begins with keeping the home's interior cool, ensuring seniors can maintain a healthy internal temperature. Covering windows with treatments like an awning can actually reduce the solar heat gain that shines through the window during peak hours by up to 65 per cent on south-facing windows and 77 per cent on west-facing windows, according to Energy Saver. Additionally, lighter coloured awnings will help reflect more heat away from the home.
Improve air flow
One of the best ways to ensure the house temperature is cool enough is to use air conditioning. However, you have to do more than just turn the system on, if the air isn't flowing adequately then it isn't going to be effective. Start by ensuring the system's filters are clean – you'd be surprised at how dirty they can get over the winter. Clean the AC units regularly throughout the summer to ensure there are no blockages.
You can improve the air flow further by placing fans around the room, or keeping the ceiling fan turning. Your ceiling fan should be turning on a low speed in a counter clockwise rotation in order to push the warm air up.
Seniors need to take regular breaks from the sun.
Create shady safe zones
Everyone should be able to enjoy time outside, but because seniors have thinner skin due to natural ageing, they are more vulnerable to the sun. This means they should wear plenty of sunscreen, appropriate lightweight clothing, a hat (especially for balding seniors) and hydrate throughout the day. Despite taking all of these precautions, seniors need to take regular breaks from the sun.
Creating shady zones around the yard where they can easily escape to will help them spend time outside and beat the heat. For example, set up some chairs in the shade of a tree, or make a seating area with a table, chairs and an umbrella. Of course, if seniors are ever feeling unwell, it's important to get them inside as soon as possible as they are at higher risk of heat stroke. If they aren't feeling better after being inside, call for help immediately.
For more information on in home care services or tips on summer safety for elderly, contact the team here at Bannister In Home Care.