In recent weeks, the Eastern seaboard has suffered record temperatures and summer storms that have left thousands of residents without power. This lack of electricity has left many sweltering and seeking relief from humid, hot conditions. And while storms and unexpected power outages can cause an inconvenience for individuals of all ages, seniors are at an especially high risk of heat-related illness and difficulties related to power outages.
While individuals caring for seniors living in facilities face the challenge of caring for a large group of people, in-home caregivers are presented with the task of ensuring that their clients stay safe at home. Common risks for seniors living at home during summer power outages include heat-related illness, lack of lighting for movement around the home and food borne illnesses from food lacking proper refrigeration.
Although caring for seniors at home in the midst of a summer power outage can seem like daunting task, here are a few ideas to keep your caregivers out of the dark:
1. Check-In With Clients:
Your agency has a chance to provide outstanding customer service by notifying your clients and their emergency contacts about natural disasters. With the help of a home care system or home care software, you can quickly send out emails to client contacts, and efficiently find phone numbers to see if seniors need an emergency visit to assist them during a power outage. Considerations like power outages also highlight the importance of having a home care software or home care system that operates off of a cloud-based system, allowing you to access client records from any computer via secure log-ins – meaning that if your office is out of power, you can still find client schedules, contacts and caregiver information from laptops or other devices such as tablets and smartphones with internet access.
2. Ensure Food Safety:
Seniors living at home during a power outage are at risk of food borne illness such as E.Coli and food poisoning, which can cause dehydration and other life-threatening conditions for frail seniors. Without a working refrigerator, some seniors may be unable to accurately gauge whether or not a perishable food is safe to eat, or allow food to go bad in their refrigerators or freezers when power is out for an extended period of time.
Assigning caregivers as task in your home care software or home care system to check on food safety during a power outage will help reduce the risk of food borne illness from ingesting spoiled foods. Make a note about safe food temperatures in your home care software or home care system and note that caregivers should encourage seniors to discard any food that has been improperly kept.
3. Provide refreshment:
Seniors who choose to stay in their home during a summer power outage will need help keeping cool and hydrated. Caregivers can assist by opening doors and windows during cool morning and evening hours, helping seniors choose lightweight, breathable clothing and tracking fluid intake via your agency’s home care system or home care software. Providing refreshing treats like watermelon or drinks chilled in an ice chest can also keep seniors feeling refreshed and cool.
4. Provide Transport:
In critical heatwaves, when power is not available, the best option for many seniors is to leave their home and seek respite at a cool location until the power comes back on. Offer your clients transport with their caregivers to a local senior center, or friend or loved one’s home. With the assistance of tasks in your agency’s home care software or home care system, caregivers can help seniors pack the appropriate clothing and medications for long-term stays. Or, for mid-day outages that occur for only a few hours, arm your caregivers with a list of outing ideas like a trip to the grocery store for popsicles, or an afternoon at the air conditioned library or senior center.
Heat waves with power outages can be a serious inconvenience, and in extreme conditions, a danger for seniors living at home. However, with properly prepared caregivers and the reminder assistance of a home care software or home care system based in the cloud with telephony check-ins, you can be sure that your business keeps running to keep your clients cool and safe!