As the dog days of summer approach, you may need to think about whether mom and dad's house is able to keep them cool. Senior homes have to stay cool enough so that mom and dad can stay safe, even during July and August. Heatstroke is a major risk for senior adults since their bodies are less efficient at staying cool. Be proactive and take these steps to cool mom's house before the mercury rises.
If mom's house is in need of a new roof, you should talk to a roofer about which materials will help the house stay cooler in the summer. Certain types of roofing can reflect the sun's rays rather than absorb them.
If it has been years since mom's attic insulation has been inspected, you may want to crawl up there and take a peek. Having a new layer of insulation blown into the attic can keep the heat out of her living area. Additionally, the extra insulation will keep her house much warmer in the winter too, saving her big bucks on her heating bills.
3. Windows and Window Film
If mom's windows are old and leaky, you may just want to get them replaced with newer, more energy efficient types. However, if her windows are fairly current or new windows are not in the budget, you can prevent the sun's rays from heating up her home by adding a layer of window film to the glass. Window film will allow mom to enjoy the cheerful sunlight in her home but will also block the rays that will make the house hotter. Reflective films are significantly less expensive than window replacement, and you can either do it yourself with a window film kit, or you can pay a company to come to the house and do it for you.
4. Interior Window Coverings
Leaky windows can let a lot of hot air into the house. Choosing the right window coverings in the house can help keep the heat out of mom's living area. Buy heavy, insulated curtains with light-colored backings to keep the cool air inside and the hot air outside. Honeycomb-style blinds also do a great job of trapping the heat between the blind and the window.
5. Air Conditioning
If mom can afford it, install air conditioning in the house. Of course a central air conditioning unit may be extremely expensive, but those on tight budgets may want to consider smaller units that will cool one or two rooms in the home. These units are much more energy efficient than they used to be. Be sure that the air conditioner is rated to provide cooling for the room in which it will be placed so that the unit will work most efficiently.
6. Use the Oven Less
Appliances can really heat up senior homes quickly. The stove and oven are major culprits in making slightly warm houses hot, stuffy, and miserable. Help mom find alternatives to using the stove and oven for her meal preparation. She can use the microwave, toaster oven, or slow cooker to make her meals on hot summer days. Alternately, she may need "cool" meals, like chicken salad or fruit smoothies.
7. Use Fans
Fans can help keep the air moving on hot summer days. Ceiling fans will help move the air efficiently around the house, and they should be set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to have the most air blowing down on mom and dad.
8. Turn Out the Lights
Even energy efficient lights can give off a remarkable amount of heat. Encourage mom to turn out the lights during the day if possible.
Senior homes without air conditioning can be dangerous places for mom or dad. Take precautions to cool their homes as much as possible before the weather gets really hot. Be sure that you check on mom frequently during a heat wave and provide plenty of cool, non-alcoholic drinks for her in her fridge.