2018-06-20 / Columns

Summer heat brings special challenges for area seniors

STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART
MARLA MEYERS
Executive Director, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

During the summer months, the sun can bring lots of joy at the pool or playing the day away at camp. It means ice cream cones dripping down arms, and long evenings sitting out back watching the sun taking its time setting for the day. One thing that rings true is that the warm nights and hot days and sunbeams streaming mean great things for lots of people (especially our children!). However, it is also a reminder that the heat can bring special challenges to seniors in need.

Isolation, dehydration, malnutrition, and transportation can be huge factors for a senior’s quality of life, and the summer temperatures can exacerbate issues with medical and living conditions. The way we can help all of our seniors with these issues during the summer months is by providing personalized care. It doesn’t matter if you are a volunteer, licensed professional, caregiver, or family member—we all have a role to play in their happiness and comfort. As we are all caretakers of our elders in the community, we can work together to give them the attention and care they deserve.

Isolation can be a real challenge for seniors who want to age in place at home, as some have few individuals who come to visit them throughout a given week, day, or month. During the summer months, if we are not looking in on our seniors, they may be suffering alone in an overly warm apartment. Or, if someone is not checking their medications, they may have a reaction in the extreme heat or sunlight. Have they had a meal today, or were they too hot to make food or move around their home? Do they have air conditioning, or a fan circulating air around their living space? Do they have a refillable water bottle, or access to cool water to drink—and are they drinking enough fluids or are they forgoing eating altogether. Are they getting out of the house, to go to medical appointments or for opportunities to get to an air-conditioned space?

There are a lot of questions to be considered. JFCS, and you, can be the answer to many of them. So, here are some ideas to help those who are 60+ in our neighborhoods, this summer:

Be a Good Neighbor: Visit, call, and check in on seniors you know; especially if they live alone. Whether it’s for a few minutes, or to share lunch together, you could make their day brighter. JFCS offers a “Friendly Visitor” program for just such needs, if you personally want to volunteer to visit our senior clients.

Get Signed Up for Services: Enroll as a client or help someone else enroll for JFCS in-home nursing assistance. For those with personal care or medical needs, a nursing assessment is available. Based on the assessment, the client can receive pillbox refills, medication monitoring, vital checks, and medical case management. Or, hire a home health aide through JFCS. Having an extra hand around the home by a caring professional can be supremely helpful. Our certified homecare staff assists clients with bathing, meal preparation, and offers companion care. Senior clients can also get catered, home delivered meals through JFCS, which helps take the guesswork out of preparing meals, and can be warmed in a microwave so they don’t have to raise the temperature of their home with traditional oven use.

Get Behind the Wheel: Being unable to drive is a hindrance to many seniors. Volunteer provided transportation is essential to their wellbeing. In addition to keeping medical appointments, getting to a public area that has air conditioning during the summer months is a way to stave off complications from heat. Many seniors cannot afford the increased electric bill to run their air conditioning, so they rely on getting to places like the local library, or malls for some daytime relief.

These are just a handful of ways that you, along with JFCS, can help seniors who may need care.

For information on all of our 60+ Services, please reach out to Gail Belfer, director of 60+ Services at JFCS, at (856) 424- 1333 or visit our website at www.jfcssnj.org/60plusservices.

To become a volunteer visitor or driver for the 60+ Program clients, please contact Sherri Jonas at sjonas@jfedsnj.org.

Together, we can bring enjoyable, productive days to our elders throughout the community this summer.

mmeyers@jfedsnj.org

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