Looking after your elderly loved one during a heatwave

With the summer temperatures rising, it’s sometimes easy to forget how the warm weather can affect the more vulnerable people in your life. A heatwave can affect anyone, but those aged 75 or older are more at risk of damage to health. Our bodies are less able to cope with extremes of temperature as we get older, making us more susceptible to heat-related illness.

As we get older, our sensation of thirst changes meaning that we may not feel thirsty, despite being dehydrated. Those living with dementia may not recognise the signs of dehydration or be able to communicate their needs easily, so keeping an eye on your loved ones becomes even more vital during warmer weather.

What are the signs of dehydration?

The NHS recommends the following symptoms for dehydration:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • a dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

Heatstroke can be very serious if not treated quickly. Call for emergency help if you or someone else is experiencing the following:

  • feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • not sweating even while feeling too hot
  • a high temperature of 40C or above
  • fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • feeling confused
  • a fit (seizure)
  • loss of consciousness
  • not responsive

How to keep your loved ones cool

Try and keep living areas cool

Close blinds and curtains to restrict heat from the sun, and turn on fans.

Ensure that they have easy access to cool drinks

Putting a drink supply near their favourite reading spots, or a place they visit frequently makes the process more convenient.

Pop around with some ice lollies, or cool snacks

Did you know that fruit and vegetables such as melon, oranges and cucumber full of water too, making a great hydrating snack!

Ask them if they would like a cool bath or shower instead of hot

Alternatively, they may like a cold flannel for their face or neck.

Wear loose, light coloured clothing

Wear a sunhat when going outside, plus remember to apply sunscreen to ensure that the skin doesn’t get burnt.

Keep updated with weather warnings

Make sure you regularly check the weather forecast to ensure that you stay informed as to weather warnings and recent advice.

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