Heat wave a special concern for the elderly

Saanich Peninsula seniors care facilities monitor people regularly.

  • Aug. 1, 2017 2:35 p.m.

Tim Collins/News staff

A massive ridge of high pressure over the south coast of B.C. has prompted Environment Canada to issue a special weather alert for the region as temperatures over the next few days are slated to hit record highs.

It’s a situation that has prompted seniors homes on the Saanich Peninsula to take extra precautions to safeguard the health of their residents.

“Of course in weather like this everyone should take extra precautions to prevent heat-related illness, but the elderly are among the most vulnerable and are at a greater risk. That’s why we take extra precautions,” said Jocelyn Wild, the activity co-ordinator of Rest Haven Lodge in Sidney.

Wild explained that, despite the weather advisory, Rest Haven Lodge still encourages it’s residents to get outdoors to take part in any of the host of activities offered to residents.

“As much as we have to be cautious, it’s also important for the health and well-being of our residents to get out and stay active. It’s a little bit of a balancing act, but we take care to ensure that everyone is safe,” she said.

Wild explained that the precautions that Rest Haven takes for its residents are really the same as what the average person should be doing, including wearing loose clothing, wearing wide brimmed hats and sunglasses, applying sunscreen, and drinking a lot of fluids.

“Some of our rooms are air conditioned, but where they aren’t, we have fans to move the air around and help our residents stay cool. Outdoors we’re sure to take full advantage of shaded areas and we put up big sun umbrellas to provide additional shade,” she said.

According to Shauna Dorko of Sidney Senior Care, another issue specific to the elderly is the fact that they can lose their sense of their own body temperature.

“We monitor our residents very closely because we’ve occasionally found them sitting in the blistering heat, wearing sweaters or jackets. They just don’t realize they’re overheating,” said Dorko.

“It’s why we advocate a sort of buddy system where we watch out for one another, making sure that everyone is drinking a lot of non-alcoholic fluids like water and juice and taking care to do things like closing drapes during the daytime to block the sun and opening windows and using fans to promote a cross breeze in the rooms.”

Like Wild, Dorko acknowledged that activity is still important, even during hot spells, but pointed out it might be wise to forgo the yoga on the beach and the strenuous power walks until the temperatures drop to more seasonal levels.

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