Keeping Residents Warm

It can come as a surprise in the spring and summer months that residents may complain of being cold. Older people may have an issue with circulation or may be taking blood thinner medication. These are two of the most significant reasons for older people feeling colder in any season. While it might feel odd to place a blanket or sweater on a resident in the summer, their bodies may need it.

A light sweater or other covering can help cold residents feel warmer. Aides must be wary of placing too much covering on a resident that complains of cold as there is a chance of overheating. The elderly often have a problem with their bodies regulating temperature and some may not sweat. This body function is important. Sweating helps the body stay cooler and eliminates some body waste (salt). When sweat evaporates the human body cools somewhat.

Speak with your supervising nurse (Hall Nurse) for information on specific residents. She may be able to shed some light on how to help residents on your assignment. Every resident will have different needs when it comes to heating and cooling. Summer months can be dangerous for people in certain areas. When there are heat waves, especially in regions where very high temperatures are not normal, the elderly can suffer. Not only can they suffer, extreme heat can be fatal. Residents that are complaining of feeling cold during a very hot days may need to be convinced to forgo layered clothing or blankets.

Dehydration is another threat that can affect the elderly during summer months. It may be difficult to encourage seniors to drink enough at any time, but during hot days it is even more important to push fluids. As with heat, dehydration can be fatal, in fact dehydration is more of a problem than heat! Any resident that insists on coverings during warm weather should receive even more fluids than usual. Remember that jello type treats and popsicles count as fluid intake. Offer these if you cannot convince the resident(s) to drink water, juice, or other fluids.

You can also help a cold resident feel warmer by keeping him or her out of the direct air flow of air conditioning vents, fans, and doorways. Direct air flow will cause residents in the path to feel much cooler than normal. Even if you think the coolness feels good, your resident may feel as if they are freezing. Do avoid direct sunlight as an effort to help residents feel warmer. The resident can overheat quickly and even need emergency medical attention. This is assuming a position by a bright window, not outdoors. Never leave any resident outdoors in the sun on a hot day no matter how cold they assert they feel.