by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
National elderly at-home care company, Home Instead Senior Care, is urging people in communities across the UK to pop in on their elderly neighbors to check they are keeping safe and well during the prolonged heatwave.
As a nation we are much more aware of the health of our elderly during cold winter months and will regularly check up on their well-being, but it’s just as important that we consider how older people are fairing in the hotter temperatures we are currently experiencing.
The elderly are particularly vulnerable because they are unable to regulate their body temperature, medications can have a significant impact on this, especially when the temperature is warm during the day and carries on throughout the evening. Older people with dementia are most at risk as they can sometimes forget to do simple things such as eat and drink.
Home Instead has taken special measures to make their caregivers aware of these dangers and are ensuring that their clients are well prepared to cope during this type of weather.
Home Instead’s CEO, Trevor Brocklebank, mentions one recent case study from their Exeter & East Devon office, “Mark McGlade from our Exeter office found an elderly lady propped up against her door when he passed by her home, he went to see if she was alright. She was locked out and had been standing there for nearly four hours in the sweltering heat with no shade or water and was quite obviously distressed. After trying to get back into her home to no avail, Mark resorted to climbing in an open window. Once he was in, he gave her a large drink of cold water, opened all the windows and closed all the curtains to cool down the house, she couldn’t thank him enough.
“Although this an unusual example of the effects of heat, we’re calling for people across local communities to be extra vigilant about the wellbeing of their elderly neighbors, especially at this time of year.”
It is a disgrace to society when a commercial enterprise has to remind us to look after our (elderly) neighbors during times such as a heatwave to ensure that they are OK.
But, to a degree, this is nothing really new. It began, in the UK, during Thatcher's reign when communities were being destroyed deliberately and when elderly neighbors died and no one noticed until such a time that they were observing bluebottles coming our of the letterbox and the unbearable smell of decomposition.
There was a time when the elderly in a neighborhood were revered uncles and aunts – even though they were not, necessarily, related in any way – of the children growing up there and everyone made sure everyone else was OK. But now we rarely know who our neighbors are, often not even knowing their names or whatever, even if we live cheek by jowl to them in apartment blocks and one just passes them without as much as acknowledging each others' presence.
We don't often even dare to knock at a neighbor's door to ask too borrow something, not even a cup of sugar, for instance, though this was once more than common.
We spend our time on social media and on our cellphones and in the case of social media at times making “friends” with people hundreds and more miles away while we are afraid to make friends with those that live next door to us and in the same street. And then everyone talks about how sad it is that we no longer have communities. It is up to us to make them happen.