26 May 6 Summer Preparation Tips for Seniors at Home
We are all spending more time at home now. This is especially true for the elderly and those that are compromised. By taking proactive steps now, older adults can make sure that their homes are safe and ready for a long, hot summer.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, seniors are staying at home more than ever. With summer fast approaching, it’s critical that older adults at home are best prepared for the heat and humidity that accompany the season. Also, if one is proactive now, they can spend less time down the road on maintenance or other troubles that arise from not preparing their home for summer. At the very least, you can take care of items now that allow you to enjoy your outdoor areas to the fullest with the onset of summer upon us. Read our tips for older adults to be prepared for a happy, safe, and healthy summer at home.
6 summer preparation tips for seniors at home
Service Your Air Conditioner
Having an air conditioner fail in the midst of a heat wave can be a major challenge for anyone. The effects of that on seniors can be even more of a challenge. Spring, or at least before the full heat of summer, is the best time to have your air conditioning system checked to make sure that it’s in proper shape to keep your home cool in the warm months ahead.
There are a few straightforward ways to get your air conditioner and HVAC system in order, or for a technician to get you all set for the summer.
For starters, the system’s filter should be changed. If a filter is dirty or clogged, the air conditioner has to work harder, stay on longer, and ultimately will cost you more money. In reality, you should already be changing your air filters every 3 months. However, spring is a great time to get started and ensure you stay on cycle as the seasons change.
Also, see you how your unit is cooling. If the A/C fails to start, check the circuit breaker or fuses. It may take a minute so keep that in mind. If it fails to cool or start up as expected, consider calling a pro.
A technician may be a good idea even if everything appears to be functioning as normal. By having a routine yearly tune up, you can help extend the life of your system while ensuring a smooth and efficient operation. Seasonal maintenance of your system generally includes inspection and unit cleaning. Plus, they will check and service any parts that need it. Some companies offer prepaid service plans that can cover the maintenance mentioned here and often a discount on any needed repairs. If the cost is reasonable and you find that it may be valuable, it can be a good way to ensure that your system gets what it needs while planning for the expense in advance.
Find ways to make it easier to stay cool
Some older adults minimize using their air conditioner due to concerns over high energy costs. While the state of Pennsylvania has a LIHEAP reduced energy cost program, it is only valid in the winter months to assist financially with heating.
If energy costs or a lack of air conditioning cause an older adult to not use a cooler, it’s vital for seniors and their loved ones to help keep the home cool in other ways. A buildup of heat can be lowered by cracking the windows during the early morning and also in the evening hours to let some cool air in. Close them during the day to trap the cool air in as temperatures begin to rise.
Also, keep any drapes or blinds closed to block the sun as well. Consider some window treatments that can facilitate sun and heat blocking elements, such as room darkening curtains. These are low cost, and as an added benefit they can help you sleep if it’s in the bedroom. Finally, use fans to facilitate air circulation. Make sure that your ceiling fans are switched back for the summer so that they are pushing air downwards.
Fight water damage and flooding
Summer heat generally brings significant summer rains as well. These rainstorms can turn disastrous and be dangerous for older adults.
Make sure that your home is protected against flooding and storm damage by reviewing your home’s foundation. In particular, you’ll want to inspect your basement. Take a look around for holes or cracks that may have developed. Work to seal them. Check your gutters to ensure that they are clean so that water can flow out appropriately. Make sure that water is flowing away from your home and not towards it. Plus, get your roof inspected to check for shingles that might be broken, cracked, or warped. By correcting any errors early, you can prevent more expensive and damaging issues down the road.
Inspect the attic
Make the effort to review your attic space before the temperature gets too hot to head up to there. For starters, something may have happened over the winter that may require your attention. If you or a loved one goes up there, be sure to wear a dust mask and long sleeves and pants that can protect you from insulation.
Also, animals or a related infestation may have occurred and nested up there in an attempt to escape the cold. If you discover a current or recent infestation, you’ll need to dispose of any animal droppings. This is another important reason to wear a mask. Even if it’s old, animal waste can be detrimental by causing respiratory issues plus it carries various diseases. Most importantly, besides ridding yourself of an active infestation, be sure to find and seal any holes where the rodents or animals found entry.
When reviewing the attic, you should also review air vents for potential obstructions. Also, check for any wet spots in the insulation that could stem from an active leak. Also, be sure to add additional insulation if you determine that yours may have become compacted.
Consider your landscaping
Planting, mowing, and related tasks can make the exterior of your home really stand out in the summer. However, these intensive activities can be difficult or impossible for seniors to manage. Take steps now to decide ways that you can manage the lawn and the needs of the garden during the summer. This is best to do before the growing season really kicks into high gear.
If a senior or their loved one is unable to properly manage the garden, they should consider hiring a professional. Otherwise, they may be able to convert the landscape into concrete or other low maintenance plants that can be easier for older adults to manage. Don’t forget that gardening for seniors can not only be a great exercise activity but is another way to effectively engage seniors as well. Therefore, consider this project that can keep you busy and fulfilled throughout the summer season.
Regardless of what you do, taking steps now to keep the yard clean and well organized will ultimately make it easier for your maintenance needs down the road. While you’re at it, review other outdoor spaces as well. In addition to checking them for general maintenance and if any repairs are needed, invest the time to get them available so you can spend more time enjoying your outdoor area when it’s nice out and less time on cleaning or maintaining it when you want to utilize it.
Be ready in case of emergency
It’s always a good idea to have an emergency plan in place, and this holds true throughout the year. Our useful emergency preparation checklist is a great place to start. A summer-specific plan would include preparations for a storm emergency kit to have available in the event of a dangerous condition that develops.
With Pennsylvania’s unpredictable weather along with the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no better reason than to ensure total preparation than now. Best of all, a storm kit can fit any budget. Assemble a hardy kit by getting a small plastic container together. Fill it with emergency items that would be beneficial in case of disaster. Items like a small first aid kit, water bottles, a flashlight and set of batteries, canned food items along with a can opener, some duct tape, a hand-held radio, and a cell phone charger are all excellent ideas. Our resource for family caregivers during the coronavirus is another great tool for preparing seniors for disasters and unexpected events.
Connection and care in difficult times
This summer, it may be particularly tough for seniors or their families to not only get critical support but also foster connection and engagement that becomes more difficult in the face of a pandemic. With restrictions looking to stay in place, especially for older adults, it may not be advisable for travel or in-person meetings to occur.
While this will be incredibly difficult for both seniors and their loved ones, Chosen Family caregivers can help ensure safety at home, while also promoting companionship, activity, and independence for older individuals. Plus, Chosen Family caregivers have been trained in infection prevention techniques that can help prevent infection for older adults and loved ones that are rightly concerned. Whether it’s from the COVID-19 outbreak or extreme weather, our caregivers are skilled to follow both emergency procedures of the local community and of the company. This can offer peace of mind for seniors and their loved ones.