The first nursing home I moved to 16 years ago was a cool 70 degrees during the summer months. Some days I was so cold I went outside and sat in the sun till I warmed up. I knew the coolness was necessary for residents with breathing problems and for staff who were always moving.
Over the years the air conditioning temperature in nursing facilities, stores and businesses in general has gone up. Buildings are much warmer in the summer. There is no doubt that economics and air conditioning efficiency are the reasons.
When I came to this facility in September 2010, I thought the ceiling fans in the lobby and dining rooms helped the air conditioning work more efficiently. But when I saw fans sitting next to beds, I wondered if the air conditioning cooled adequately during the hottest summer months.
On a hot day in the spring of 2011, a nurse said the building’s temperature could get hot in the summer, sometimes as high as 100 degrees. I remembered that on May days when my room was not cool. Even with a fan some evenings my thermometer read 87 degrees and I was perspiring profusely.
I asked if I could purchase a window air conditioner and was given the okay. My room was instantly cooler and it was easier for me to breathe. The resident’s window air conditioner next door also helped mine work well.
On 90 degree days staff breathed with relief when they came into my room. I felt badly because when aides lifted me, I could feel heat emanating from their skin.
This year I have used my air conditioner on and off since March. It is straining because this room next door no longer has a window air conditioner.
I know some residents are chilly due to their age, medical condition or their medications. But the breathing difficulties suffered by some make living in this hot building a challenge.