When your elderly parents choose to remain in the old family home instead of moving to a place with more modern conveniences, the prediction of hot summer temperatures is cause for concern. The elderly are highly susceptible to heat-related stress that can adversely affect their health, perhaps even leading to heat exhaustion and more dire conditions. Ensuring that they have reliable air conditioning to stay cool and comfortable through the heat becomes a responsibility you can't delay. It is possible to honor your parents' independence while taking practical steps to help them weather the heat in a cool, calm and collected way.
Take Charge of the Cooling System
If there's any sort of cooling equipment in your elderly parents' house, your top priority is making sure the system is in topnotch working condition. Go ahead and take the initiative as your parents may not be comfortable contacting an air conditioning specialist on their own, or they may not feel they can afford the expense. Try to do the following:
- Call an air conditioning company to make an appointment for a service call. To avoid any reluctance they might have, coordinate the timing with your parents and plan to pay for the service and repairs yourself. Set up the appointment as soon as possible, as the company's schedule can get filled very quickly when the weather report calls for elevated temperatures
- Take time to visit after the service call is done and any repairs are completed. Turn on the a/c for a few minutes to assure yourself that it's operating properly and cooling sufficiently to keep your loved ones comfortable.
- If there is no air conditioning in your parents' older house, insist on installing a window-mounted a/c unit. Better yet, install two – one in the main living area for cooling during the day and one in the bedroom to keep it comfortable for sleeping.
Be aware that the cost of running a cooling system can be a major concern for seniors who are on a fixed or limited income. Even after you've made sure the a/c is in good working order, there's a possibility it won't get turned on because your folks want to save money. Alleviate that worry by making arrangements to pay a portion of their electric bill during the hottest months of the year.
Put a Back-Up Plan in Place
Like all mechanical systems, air conditioning parts can wear out and cause system failure. Having a contingency plan in place before the temperatures soar will give both you and your parents peace of mind in case a breakdown happens. Start by making sure they have the phone number of a service company specializing in air conditioner repair so they can call immediately if the a/c stops working. Arrange to help out with any costs that are incurred, if necessary. Next, make sure your favorite seniors are equipped to cope for a while until the repair technician gets the cool air flowing again. Stop-gap measures may include:
- a rotating fan, a box fan, or both to keep the air circulating in the areas where they are spend most of their time;
- battery-operated, hand-held fans with built-in water misters to help them cool down, plus an extra pack of batteries;
- a bag of ice cubes in the freezer for rubbing on the neck and wrists if either of them starts to feel overheated;
- and treats like Popsicles, sherbet and frozen fruit for icy-cold refreshment.
When you've made sure that your parents are all set for hot weather, don't forget to also check in on them regularly on sizzling summer days. They will appreciate the chit-chat, and you'll rest easier knowing that they are still safe and comfortable in their independence.
For more information, talk with a professional air conditioning company, such as A Bailey Plumbing.