Extreme Weather Tips for Eldercaregivers


Water is vital all year - but especially for aging parents during hot weather

By Kaye Swain

Weather is in the news! On our TVs, in our radios, and on our phones as we check on loved ones during nasty storms. This is especially true for those of us caring for our aging parents. It seems like just yesterday we were following up on ice and snow storms and now it's already time to check on heat-related issues and hurricanes or tornadoes - or both!  What's a caregiver to do? Especially considering that our senior parents are so much more susceptible to temperatures that are too high or too low.

For those of us living with our senior parents, or nearby, it's always a wise idea to make sure our elderly parents have plenty of flashlights and batteries, along with lots of bottled water. Those always come in handy, storm or not, and it's so vital our senior parents not become dehydrated, so no fears about wasting them. I also have a battery operated fan in the garage. We've never used it but with all the wacky weather going on, I suspect I will need it eventually. I figure we can huddle around it in the event of a power outage on a very hot day. And if your parents live long distance, be sure to remind them to stock up on these necessities a couple of times a year.

Don't forget to have the heater and air conditioner checked at least once if not twice a year. We have a service plan that provides for twice a year check-ups and cleaning and it's been worth its weight in gold. Two years ago, a routine check up discovered the heater was developing an issue that would have stopped it cold during a particularly chilly and snowy winter. My poor mom would have frozen.  This year it was the opposite. We had a brief heat spell and I turned on the air conditioner. Later I noticed it didn't seem to be running properly. Since our pre-summer tune-up was due, I had them come out for that while explaining my concerns. Sure enough - the fan stopped working and they had to order a part. This time, it only took 2 days to get here. We were a bit warm but the power was on and the fans were going, so we made it OK. A few years ago, one of our two units quit working and it took them SIX WEEKS to get the part! That was a bit tougher for my senior mom, but the electric heater we bought her then helped a lot. And, of course, don't forget to remind your senior parents who live far away to have someone check on their heaters and air conditioners if they are not normally proactive about doing that.

As you can see, whether it's summer or winter, hot or cold, it definitely pays to be proactive with our heaters and air conditioners - making sure they are taken care and getting regular maintenance checks - especially for our senior parents. And don't forget to stock up on basic necessities in case of an outage - whether equipment or power. Your aging parents will appreciate you double for that. And you'll be glad for a bit less stress in your life.