Most people feel a little uncomfortable when the weather is hot. For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), though, the higher temperatures and humidity of the summer months can cause serious trouble. COPD sufferers may struggle harder to breathe and might even have bronchospasms. The reason for this is that hot weather makes the body’s temperature rise. This makes bodily systems to work harder trying to cool down. That means more oxygen is needed, so the lungs have to step up their efforts, too. All of that leads to more difficult breathing. But, warm weather doesn’t have to mean older adults with COPD are miserable all summer long. Below are tips for helping your aging relative with COPD to live more comfortably and safely during the warmer weather.
Offer Plenty of Liquids
When it’s hot, people sweat. Sweating means that the body loses more water and can become dehydrated more easily. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to prevent dehydration and thins mucus. Thinner mucus is easier to clear from the lungs and airways. When mucus isn’t cleared out, it can make infections more likely and makes breathing more difficult.
A home care provider can bring your aging relative cold glasses of water or other liquids throughout the day and encourage them to drink.
Rest in the Shade
People with COPD can enjoy time outside in the summer, but they do have to be a little more careful. They should be encouraged to take frequent breaks in the shade. Resting gives the body a chance to cool down.
A home care provider can place a sturdy chair in a shady area and remind the senior to sit down for a rest from time to time.
Keep Track of Allergen Levels
When allergen levels are high, COPD symptoms are likely to be worse. Talk to the senior’s doctor about which allergens could exacerbate their symptoms and medicines that may help. Also, keep an eye on the local news and weather to see when allergen levels are higher. If possible, the older adult should stay indoors on those days.
Home care providers can remind the older adult to take allergy medicines. On days when they cannot go outdoors, a home care provider can plan indoor activities to keep the senior occupied.
Use an Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier
Keep the household environment as comfortable as possible using air conditioning. This can also cut down on allergens in the home since the windows are kept shut. Air conditioning also improves the humidity levels in the home. If the senior lives where humidity is high, it can also help to use a dehumidifier.
Home care providers can close up the house and turn on the air conditioning on hot days or when allergen levels are high.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING HOME CARE SERVICES IN WILSON, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.
Kathy is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) who is active in several other senior related organizations, including Alzheimer’s State Champion program, Friends of the Northern Wake Senior Center board member, Ambassador for the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce, Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), Health Affairs Round Table (HART), and Senior Information Networking Group (SING).