We live and provide home care services in Montreal, Quebec, which is right in the middle of the deep snow zone. Winters can be very tough in Montreal. Our clients have difficulty and safety issues with the snow and ice, and they are less likely to go outside and have an outing or get some exercise during the winter months for fear of falling. We are well aware of “cabin fever”.

Summer is now officially here and it is so nice to get out. We are planning outings, car rides and picnics to enable our clients to spread their wings and enjoy the nice weather. Yesterday we had a lovely visit to the Atwater Market and our client was so pleased to be able to go out and poke around the beautiful flower and vegetable stalls and pick up a few things to take home.

However, with the higher temperatures certain precautions have to be taken with the elderly. We all remember a few years ago when there was a heat wave in France and many shut-in seniors tragically died of heat stroke. Therefore it is so very important to be aware of the risks of the heat. Not all seniors have air conditioning in their homes so special care has to be taken during the hot, humid weather. Pull the curtains to keep the sun at bay, get out the fans, make use of the cool basement.

Ensure that your friend or loved one has access to water at all times to avoid dehydration. If the body temperature gets too hot this can lead to hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia. Watch for these symptoms: a change in behaviour – such as someone becoming confused or agitated; red or flushed skin; nausea or headache, or even fainting. If you go outside with your loved one to have a walk, or to do some gardening or other activity, ensure that they are wearing a hat, and bring a bottle of water along. If it is a very humid day and you still want to go for an outing, consider going to a mall or other air conditioned indoor space where there is lots of space to walk around, and food courts where you can stop and rest.

Last but most important of all is to keep in touch with your neighbours and others who maybe alone at home and at risk. Just a phone call could make all the difference!