Elderly Particularly Vulnerable to Dangers of Heat Waves, Independa Chief Medical Officer Warns

I came across this article today and thought it was a great article to post. Written by Independa, it is a very relevant and timely warning of heat and the effects that it can have on our aging population. We often hear tragic stories of heat-related accidents and fatalities throughout the world that could have easily been fully avoided using some type of remote monitoring technology.  GrandCare Systems uses a series of activity of daily living sensors, including an indoor temperature sensor.  This sensor can alert a family member or professional caregiver if the temperature inside the home exceeds or drops below set parameters (heat or A/C not working, etc.)   GrandCare can also continuously remind the Loved One to drink more water, remind them to not go outside (a settable parameter if the outdoor temp is too high or too low) or alert a remote caregiver if the outdoor temperature is at a dangerous level, so they are aware of potential health risks.  This is a very real issue that is very preventable and avoidable!  Take a look at Independa’s article below!!

Proactive steps, including virtual communication, help protect health and can save lives

 SAN DIEGO, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — As cities across the United States cope with record-breaking heat waves this summer, it is critical for those who care for the elderly to proactively protect their health, says Dr. Richard Della Penna, Chief Medical Officer of Independa™, Inc. and a leading expert on elder care. He adds that emerging technology makes it easier to take precautions and learn of potential issues.

“The elderly are at greater risk than the general population during extremely hot weather because our bodies don’t respond to changes in temperature in the same way as we get older,” Della Penna says. “Beyond causing discomfort, sustained heat and humidity are dangerous for older people.”

Why Elderly Are Susceptible

Among contributing factors, the elderly don’t always feel as warm as younger people do in higher temperatures, and don’t necessarily sense thirst. Medical conditions can further diminish elders’ ability to cope with heat-related stress, and medications can interfere with their bodies’ cooling capabilities, Della Penna adds.

Habits and lifestyles also play a role. Because they chill easily, older adults tend to dress warmly. They may not have air conditioning or fans, and even if they do, those on fixed incomes often hesitate to use these electrical devices. In urban areas, the elderly frequently shut their windows and doors for fear of crime.

“Isolation is certainly a risk factor for older people,” Della Penna says. “Many of the people who die during heat waves are elders who live alone and don’t have anyone to check on them.”

During the hot spell that struck Chicago in July 1995, 371 of the 522 deaths reported involved people age 65 or older. This summer, the National Weather Service attributed as many as 64 deaths to the heat wave in late July as Midwestern, Eastern and Southern states experienced temperatures in the 90s and 100s.

How Caregivers Can Help

Della Penna is calling on caregivers to act now, using technology for virtual communication and monitoring if they don’t live nearby or are away on vacation.

“New technology allows remote caregivers to be proactive and be notified of possible danger signs,” he says.

Della Penna recommends the following measures for caregivers:

  • Monitor weather reports, and reach out to care recipients when the weather forecast calls for a heat wave, so you can help them plan. Independa customers currently can arrange to receive alerts tied to outside temperatures, for example if the temperature hits 90 degrees, and can monitor care recipients’ local weather conditions from their software dashboard.
  • Encourage elders to wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Advise older people to drink water or juice throughout the day. Independa’s telecare reminder platform can be programmed to send recipients reminders to drink fluids at regular intervals.
  • Encourage care recipients to use air conditioning or fans in their homes, or to move to cooler environments in friends’ homes, cooling centers or other public places. If necessary, prearrange for transportation.
  • Suggest minimizing activities that generate heat in the home, including cooking with the stove or oven.
  • Recommend avoiding strenuous exercise.
  • Speak with a care recipient’s physician about medications and ask about possible short-term changes, for example, to guard against dehydration.

 

“Taking advantage of technology benefits care receivers and caregivers,” Della Penna says. “By providing tips for the elderly and helping them plan for hot temperatures, caregivers can empower those in their care to protect themselves. Caregivers can also use technology to ‘see’ into their loved ones’ or patients’ homes and intervene if something doesn’t seem quite right.”… To read the full article: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/elderly-particularly-vulnerable-to-dangers-of-heat-waves-independa-chief-medical-officer-warns-126659388.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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