How To Help Elder Adults Stay Cool In Summer Heat

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REAL Services is dedicated to helping elder adults stay safe in the heat. If you or a loved one needs help staying cool this summer, call REAL Services at 574-233-8205 or toll-free at 1-800-552-2916.

By: REAL Services + Home Comfort Experts

The dog days of summer are upon Michiana, with temperatures and the humidity frequently rising to unsafe levels. 

It’s important for everyone to be careful in such hot conditions, but elderly adults are at an increased risk for heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

That’s why it’s important to follow certain safety tip when you or an elderly loved one plan to spend any amount of time outdoors, especially in direct sunlight. Here are some tips to help keep cool this summer.

Stay Inside When It’s Too Hot

The safest and easiest way to avoid the heat is to stay inside and near air conditioning when temperatures and humidity get too hot. 

If you or a senior loved one get a little restless indoors and need a place to go to walk, an indoor mall or department store are good places to go. 

“Sometimes we get seniors with cognitive diagnoses that like to walk and that’s what calms them down,” said Megan Rogers, Aging and Disabled Resource Center and Options Counselor at REAL Services.

Options in the Michiana area include University Park Mall in Mishawaka and the Concord Mall in Elkhart. 

It’s also important to be extra attentive to a loved one who likes to wander. The last thing you want to happen is for them to get lost for a long period of time in the heat. 

Be Aware Of Diet and Medications

Different medications or a new diet can impact how you react to high temperatures. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even if the temperature outside doesn’t feel uncomfortably warm.

“It keeps the person hydrated,” Rogers said. “Sometimes medications or a chronic diagnosis can affect a person when they are in the heat and it can dehydrate them more. You might be taking in a lot of salt or you might have a medication that depletes your hydration faster than you expect it to.”

It also helps to be aware of the heat-related illness warning signs, such as cool moist skin with goosebumps when in the heat, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, and a weak and rapid pulse. If you notice someone exhibiting any of these symptoms, get them out of the heat immediately.

Have A Plan In Case The Air Conditioning Goes Out

Staying out of the heat isn’t always a choice. Sometimes in the midst of a heatwave, the air conditioner goes out and the temperature inside your home starts to go up. At this point, it’s important to find a cool place to go and not just wait out the heat. 

There are cooling centers all over Michiana. 

“These can be found on the internet or the news,” Rogers said. “We’ll have it on the REAL Services website or you can call our resource center to get a list of the cooling centers depending on what county you’re in, and you can go there to cool off for a while.”

A few locations that often operate as cooling centers are fire and police stations and senior centers. In a pinch, you can also go to a nearby fast-food restaurant, convenient store or to a neighbor’s house.

Dress To Stay Cool In The Heat

Before going outside, make sure you’re in light-weight clothes that breathe well. Don’t add to the impact of the heat by wearing a sweater or jacket. 

“Some of our seniors, especially those with a cognitive diagnosis, don’t watch what they are wearing. So they may go outside and wear a sweater and think they’re cold but they really not,” Rogers said. “So being mindful of how long you’re outside and what you are wearing is important.”

The summer in Michiana can be full of fun times with family and friends, but only if you take the necessary precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe. It’s important to be aware of the sun and stay cool.

Here is a list of area cooling centers:

LaPorte County

Emergency Assistance:

  • American Red Cross, 113 Warren Rd., Michigan City // 219-874-4247
  • Salvation Army LaPorte County, 1202 S. Franklin St., Michigan City //219-874-6885

Cooling Centers:

  • Michigan City Police Station, 1201 E. Michigan Blvd., Michigan City // 219-874-3221
  • Michigan City Fire Admin Bldg, 2510 E. Michigan Blvd., Michigan City // 219-873-1440
  • Arise and Shine, 1010 West Garfield St., Michigan City // 219-221-2111
  • Michigan City City Hall, 100 E. Michigan Blvd., Michigan City // 219-873-1500
  • Michigan City Public Library, 100 E. 4th St., Michigan City // 219-873-3042
  • Keys to Home Community Resource Center, 1802 Franklin St., Michigan City // 219-809-9903

St. Joseph County

Emergency Assistance:

  • Salvation Army Kroc Center, 900 W. Western Ave, South Bend // 574-233-9471
  • American Red Cross, 220 W Colfax Ave., Suite 510, South Bend // 574-234-0191 or 800-733-2767
  • Stone Soup Community, 215 West Madison, South Bend // 574-404-6170
  • St. Vincent De Paul Society, 520 Crescent Ave., South Bend // 574-234-6000

Cooling Centers:

  • Battell Center, 904 N. Main St., Mishawaka // 574-258-1667
  • O’Brien Recreation Center, 321 E. Walter St., South Bend //574-299-3482
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, 1522 Linden Ave., South Bend // 574-235-9445
  • Charles Black Recreation Center, 3419 W. Washington St., South Bend // 574-235-9446
  • Charles Martin Youth Center, 802 Lincoln Way West, South Bend // 574-280-7092

Elkhart County

Emergency Assistance:

Cooling Centers:

  • Concord Mall, 3701 S. Main St., Elkhart // 574-875-6502
  • Elkhart Central Fire Station, 500 East St., Elkhart // 574-293-8931
  • Elkhart General Hospital, 600 East Blvd., Elkhart // 574-294-2621
  • Goshen Hospital, 200 High Park Ave, Goshen // 574-364-1000

Libraries, churches, senior centers and REAL Services’ Nutrition Sites can also act as cooling centers. 

If you or an elder loved one needs help staying cool this summer, call REAL Services at 574-233-8205 or toll-free at 1-800-552-2916 ext. 7146.

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