senior and young woman holding hands

Hospice Care in Summer: Seasonal Tips for Family Caregivers and Their Loved One

Keep Your Loved One Safe and Cared As They Receive Hospice Care

Family members are highly attentive to their loved one’s care throughout the year, but summer poses unique challenges that can negatively affect their health.

If you frequently visit, live with, or care for a loved one who is receiving hospice care at home, follow this summer health guidance to ensure they’re as comfortable and safe as possible.

What Conditions Does Summer Heat Affect?

Anyone experiencing life-limiting conditions at any age should take precautions against the heat. Certain chronic conditions are exacerbated by heat. Hospice patients should exercise caution if they have any of these chronic conditions:

  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney problems.
  • COPD.
  • Arthritis.

Adults on hospice also could be at risk if they take certain medications for chronic illnesses, such as diuretics for heart disease and high blood pressure. These medicines challenge the body’s ability to keep cool during the summer.

How to Look After Your Loved One Who Is Receiving Hospice Care This Summer

The National Institute on Aging recommends several precautions for those at home during the summer, and these same rules apply for any adult receiving hospice. Consider these recommendations for safety during summer weather:

  • Watch hydration: Encourage your loved one to drink plenty of hydrating liquids, including water, milk, fruit and vegetable juices, and drinks with added electrolytes. Also keep this in mind: if your loved one has difficulty drinking or getting their recommended intake of water, offer hydrating foods, including vegetables like cucumbers, fruits like watermelon, or a broth.
  • Keep cool: Your loved one should ideally spend their time in an air-conditioned room. If air conditioning is not available, use fans, open windows at night, and keep shades drawn during the day to keep their living space as cool and comfortable as possible.
  • Limit outdoor time: Time spent outdoors is not only dangerous for heat-related illness, but also sunburn. The NIA suggests that outdoor time should be kept to a minimum.

Looking After Your Own Health While Your Loved One Receives Hospice Care

If a loved one is receiving health care at home, including hospice care, the stress, emotions, and sacrifice involved with family caregiving can take a toll on you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that family and friend caregiving is a significant health concern. Roughly 40% of caregivers over the age of 45 have at least two chronic health conditions of their own. At age 55, that percentage moves to almost 55%.

It is just as important to get your own needs met, so you don’t suffer from the adverse effects of hot weather, either. You can follow the same recommendations mentioned above, as they apply to your health, especially if you have a chronic condition of your own: stay hydrated, keep cool, and be mindful of the time you spend outdoors.

Respite Care Supports Family Caregivers’ Health

Your focus is on your loved one, so you may be unsure whether your needs “matter” right now. But the truth is that they do. You may have heard the saying that there’s a reason why flight attendants ask you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. You have to take care of yourself first to be present and attentive to someone else.

If you’re experiencing caregiver exhaustion, or you have responsibilities and obligations outside your loved one’s care that you must meet, a leading team for hospice care near you can help family caregivers find respite care options.

To give you a break as a caregiver, your loved one can receive care at a Medicare-approved facility, such as a nursing home, inpatient facility, or hospital, for up to five days at a time. Ensure that you check with your hospice provider for precise information about your hospice benefit for respite care, including any potential out-of-pocket costs.

Take Good Care of Your Loved One and Yourself in Every Season

As your loved one receives hospice care at home during the summer, it is important to take measures to keep them safe from the heat. It is equally essential to ensure your own wellness, as you walk alongside your loved one during this part of their healthcare journey. You and your loved one deserve the highest quality of life possible this summer and throughout the year.

For more information on wellness for you or your loved one, consider these resources:

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