Summertime Beware: Importance of Hydration with an older adult

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The latest news reports are shocking: temperatures in the high 90’s and expected to last another 2 weeks.  These types of weather systems can challenging even for the best prepared.  This is especially for those over 60 as the body starts having a harder time adjusting to higher temperatures. In fact, people aged 65 and above make up around 36 percent of heat related deaths in the U.S.   Here are a few things to consider in these summer months.

  • Purchase back-up water supplies up to one half a gallon/day for each adult for up to 2 weeks.
  • Purchase other back-up yet tasty options to water: such as juices, electrolyte solutions or powdered solutions to flavor water making them more appealing to all tastes. Many older adults with cognitive impairment will refuse to drink plain water and this can become exaggerated when ill or dehydrated.  And sports drinks contain sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, two minerals we tend to lose when we sweat.
  • Purchase a filtration system such as those found in outdoor supply stores and ensure that your older adult understands how to use in an emergency situation.
  • Purchase frozen options such as popsicles frozen fruit or iced drinks that can be used to provide hydration during hot temperatures. They can be stored in Tupperware containers in the event electricity goes out.
  • Purchase canned fruit in liquid and store enough for short term use 2 – 3 weeks.
  • Purchase a fan to provide another source of cooling for older adults in the event their air conditioning units aren’t up to full speed.
  • Ensure your older adult has layers of clothing available to them. Some outdoor clothing options are made of fabric that is more likely to breath in hot temperatures.  If your older adult has to go outside in the heat, wearing sunscreen is crucial to prevent burns.  Wearing a hat can make their face and head feel cooler which can impact their comfort.  A quick cool down to get relief from the heat can include soaking a small towel or cloth and wrap around their neck or forehead to cool down.  The resulting evaporation from the water on their body will help to dissipate heat.
  • Consider window coverings that block out heat, sun and can keep temperatures down.
  • Hire an Aging Life Care Manager to check on your older adult for times you are not able to do so; when you are on vacation or away on business trips.

Joyce Sjoberg, RN, BSN, CMC, MA

Aging Life Care Manager

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