The summer might seem a little sporadic at the moment, but it is important to be prepared for the onset of hot weather, especially if you have an elderly relative. June 2019 was the hottest ever recorded on Earth; however, heatwaves can prove particularly dangerous in the UK because we are less prepared for soaring temperatures.
Hot weather (especially temperatures above 30°C) can present a real danger to elderly people – as we age, we tend to sweat less, meaning our bodies find it difficult to control our temperature. Getting too hot can lead to dehydration and a variety of heat-related illnesses.
Here at Unique Senior Care, we’ve put together this handy blog to you keep your elderly relatives cool should a heatwave occur.
8 tips for keeping cool
- Drink regularly
Make sure they drink plenty of cold drinks (even if they don’t feel thirsty), and advise them to avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks. If they travel anywhere, make sure they always have a bottle of water handy.
- Wear lighter clothing
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help your loved ones keep cool – cotton and linen are particularly good for this.
- Keep out of the heat
Try to prevent your relative getting too hot in the first place. Help them plan their day in a way that they avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am – 3pm). That said, short stints in the sun (earlier or later in the day) will help your loved ones get enough vitamin D – but make sure they wear a hat and sun screen!
- Check any medication
Age UK recommends checking how elderly people store their medication when a heatwave strikes (most should be kept below 25°C) – pop it in the fridge if need be.
- Keep the house cool
Advise your loved one to close their curtains and blinds to keep temperatures down, and, once it’s cooled down outside later in the day, open any windows.
- Eat cool foods
Encourage your elderly relatives to eat light meals with a higher proportion of vegetables, and also to eat more cold food, particularly those with a high water content, such as salads and fruit.
- Make sure they rest
While we encourage our clients to keep active, doing too much in the heat can lead to dehydration and therefore a heat-related illness.
- Recommend a cool shower
Cooler showers, baths, or washes can be really refreshing, and can even lower body temperature too.
Spotting the signs
Make sure you prepare in advance and familiarise yourself with the warning signs of overheating:
- Tiredness or weakness
- Chest pain
- Muscle spasms or cramps
- Swollen ankles.
Know when to act
Make you sure you check on elderly relatives, friends and neighbours during the hot weather and contact a doctor, a pharmacist or NHS Direct if you are worried about an elderly loved one’s health during a heatwave, especially if they are taking medication. If you suspect they are suffering from heat stroke, get help immediately.
For more information on heatstroke, the symptoms and when to call 999, see the NHS website here.
How we can help
Here at Unique Senior Care, we are here to help our clients stay healthy, safe and comfortable in their own homes, and we can also give advice specific to staying safe during the summer. Our visits are an opportunity to make sure our clients are OK, and we can also help with some of the above tips, such as monitoring medication, opening windows, helping them take cool showers, and preparing meals with high water content.
If you are interested in arranging at-home care for a loved one, get in touch to discuss your needs further!