Senior Q&A: Help elders stay cool on hot days

Debbie Gitner and Linda Sullivan

Q: Every time I visit my mother, the apartment is very hot and she is always cold. Now that summer is here, I worry that she will not put on the air conditioner and she will get sick. What can I do to convince my mother to keep her air conditioning on all the time?

A: As we age, our body changes, and your mother’s body thermostat also changes. One idea is to purchase an air conditioner with a temperature gauge. If your mother keeps the heat temperature in her apartment at 78, then keep the air conditioner close to that, otherwise your mother will feel cold and she will shut it off. Bring in popsicles, jello and other cold foods during the very hot days. Keep a thermos filled with fluids next to the spot where your mother often sits.

Q: My sister is a diabetic, and her feet are starting to breakdown. She has two areas on her feet above her toes: one that is blistering and the other an open sore. What should my sister be doing to care for her feet so she will not have this problem?

A: It is important for your sister to wash her feet thoroughly and completely dry the feet, even between the toes. Apply a good moisturizer, such as Eucerin cream, daily on the feet, but not between the toes. She should wear good shoes that are comfortable and do not chaff. If you cannot find a pair of shoes in a department store, there are specialty shoe stores that cater to people with special needs. Also, see a podiatrist to keep the nails cut. Thoroughly check the feet for any bruises, calluses, open areas or blood blisters, and if there are any changes, contact the primary care physician.

Q: My father received a phone call from a company that wanted to paint his house. He agreed, and, luckily, I was at his house when the second phone call came to confirm a date. My father agreed with the sales person over the telephone on the first conversation. This is not the first time he has agreed to calls; he’s had his rug cleaned, the house power washed, the chimney cleaned, the cleaning ducts cleaned, etc. He has difficulty saying no to a good sales person. I have spoken with my father to call me after those phone calls, but he does not want to bother me. What can I do?

A: Have you considered changing his phone number to an unlisted number? This could limit the phone calls, but there are still lists out there. Write a note, and keep it by all the phones reminding your father that when he receives phone calls from companies he is to call you first. Also, let your father know that you have competent contractors who come to your house, and if certain jobs need to be done around his house, you will make the arrangements. Also, maybe your father can write down the name of the person who called, and then you can call the company and ask them to remove your father’s name from their calling list.

Debbie Gitner, a licensed certified social worker and certified social worker care manager, and Linda Sullivan, a registered nurse and case manager certified, are geriatric care managers and owners of ElderCare Resource Services helping families investigate, assess and choose medical and non-medical care and resources for seniors. Send questions to or ElderCare Resources, Inc., 29 Gano Road, Marlborough, MA 01752, or call them at 508-879-7008.