Caring for our elderly this summer

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Assist the elderly during extreme heat periods by checking their cooling systems are working and encouraging them to wear loose fitting clothing and drink fluids regularly.

Assist the elderly during extreme heat periods by checking their cooling systems are working and encouraging them to wear loose fitting clothing and drink fluids regularly.

Hot summer days, Christmas celebrations and school holidays are all great times to enjoy with family and friends. It’s also a time when the most vulnerable in our community need special attention.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a warmer and drier 2018-19 summer than usual. This could bring with it extreme weather conditions and heat waves, which historically results in increased deaths and serious impacts on people with underlying health conditions.

You can assist the elderly during extreme heat periods by looking out for elderly neighbours and family members and checking their cooling systems are working. Encourage them to wear loose fitting clothing and to take in fluids regularly.

Hepburn Health’s Manager Integrated Community Aged Care Gabrielle Kirby says, “It can be a particularly stressful time for many of our older clients. Our staff are there to help, whether it be a reminder on a home visit to drink more water and stay cool or a phone call to the vulnerable to check in on them.”

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On extreme weather warning days, or those categorised as Code Red or Catastrophic, Hepburn Health will implement some essential changes for safety reasons. Home visits may be cancelled or rescheduled, care visits may be requested to be held at a relative or friend’s home, or elderly people at risk in their homes may be relocated to hospital, a care facility or motel.

All of these options will be discussed with aged care residents or home care clients ahead of forecast extreme weather days.

Finally, take time during your family gatherings to gauge whether your parents, grandparents or any other relations are showing any noticeable signs of changes to their memory. Signs of delirium could be the result of dehydration brought on by the heat, or other health complications. 

If you have concerns contact your GP or health professionals. For any further enquiries regarding extreme heat days contact Hepburn Health on 5321.6500. To access the CFA Your Guide to Survival visit cfa.vic.gov.au.