The continuing heat wave is challenging for many British Columbians, especially the elderly. Seniors are particularly vulnerable during a heatwave, especially those who live alone, have difficulties drinking lots of water, are less able to detect their body overheating, live in an apartment without air conditioning or cross-ventilation, have difficulty accessing cool parts of their house, such as the basement, and have greater overall health frailty.
As we work through this unprecedented heatwave, we would ask everyone to please:
- Check on your elderly family members, friends and neighbours, in person. Ensure they have lowered the blinds, closed the drapes, and have fans running. Open their doors to the corridor of the building if it will help to circulate cooler air.
- Ensure they are drinking plenty of cool liquids and eating as much as possible, as their appetite may decrease during the hot weather.
- When visiting a senior, apply a cold cloth to their face, wrists and back of their neck. Assist them by placing their wrists under cold running water or running a cool or tepid shower. These actions will all help to bring down their body temperature.
- Ensure they are wearing cool cotton or other natural fabric clothing.
- Ask them to avoid going outside. If they must, ensure they are protected from the sun and wear a wide brimmed a hat since older skin is more vulnerable to sunburn.
- Bring them to an air-conditioned location, such as a shopping mall, a movie theatre, a recreation centre, or your own house if it is cooler – especially through the hottest part of the day.
If there are signs of unusual confusion, vomiting or lethargy, immediately call 9-1-1 or take them to the nearest emergency department. If you are concerned about a senior and you cannot contact them, call the local police.
If you are a senior or you know a senior who needs some help with getting groceries, meals or medication, call 2-1-1 to connect with the local Better at Home agency who can offer some services and support.
For more information contact the Office of the Seniors Advocate at 1-877-952-3181