Summer heat poses serious health risks for the elderly because our bodies aren't as capable of cooling down in the heat as we age. Every year, as temperatures rise, warnings go out through the media to make sure that the elderly and those with health conditions have adequate shelter from the weather. For those concerned about caring for elderly family members who are living in senior apartments, there are a number of fairly simple and cost effective ways to make sure the temperature indoors is always comfortable.
1. Turn on the Air Conditioning.
In years past, air conditioning was a major concern because not every apartment or home was equipped with a unit. Today, however, most senior apartments come with air conditioning units.
It's important to keep the temperature at a comfortable level, but the cost of electricity for the summer months may also be an issue for some of the more frugal seniors. Some of the tips that follow can help to defray some of the cost of running the air conditioner, and seniors can always turn the air down when they'll be out of the house for a number of hours. In the event that the apartment doesn’t have central air, a window unit can be purchased and easily installed in the rooms that are most used.
2. Close off Unused Rooms.
One way to help alleviate the cost of cooling a senior apartment is by only cooling the rooms that are most used. This way, the space cools faster, and it's easier to maintain the temperature.
In cases where there are wall or window units, simply closing doors or hanging curtains in doorways to block unused rooms can be an excellent way to keep the temperature more comfortable with less stress on the air conditioner. For those with central air, vents can be closed in rooms that see less use, forcing more cool air out through the vents in the rooms that seniors spend the most time.
3. Invest in Better Window Treatments.
An excellent way to keep cool air in is by using the proper window treatments. White mini-blinds work very well for a few reasons — the mini-blinds, when closed, create a solid buffer so that less of the cool air from inside escapes through the cracks in the window while shielding the room from the heat outside. White is an excellent choice of color because it reflects light rather than soaking it in as a darker color would, keeping the area from heating up as much.
4. Use Ceiling Fans Wisely.
Ceiling fans are excellent additions to any cooling plan. Seniors can use ceiling fans to circulate the air throughout the space to amp up the cooling power of AC and save money on the electricity bill. Just make sure to turn off fans in rooms that aren’t in use — fans don’t actually cool air any further, so keeping them running all the time won’t help Mom keep cool or save money.
5. Close the Curtains.
This sounds simple but many people will forget about this task or overlook its importance. Keeping the curtains closed in rooms that get the most direct sunlight will help to lower the temperature in the space. Many seniors prefer natural daylight, but it will get much warmer in areas where the sun is streaming in. A great compromise for those seniors who really enjoy having the curtains open is to keep them closed in rooms that aren't being used and try to leave the blinds drawn on windows to the south and west, where the brightest sunlight will enter.
Stay Safe This Summer.
These tips can help alleviate some of the burden of cooling the space. But don’t forget to take other heat safety precautions as well. For seniors, especially, it's important to stay hydrated during hot months by limiting caffeine and drinking water and other hydrating drinks.