We’ve already had plenty of hot weather throughout June and July, with temperatures reaching record-breaking heights throughout the country. With the hot weather comes danger and risk, with the high temperatures having a negative effect on the elderly.
With August traditionally being one of the hottest months of the year, there’s even more of a need for the younger generation to look after their elderly relatives, friends and neighbours. There’re plenty of things that we can do to help make sure that the elderly remain safe and healthy during the heat wave.
Caring for the elderly in hot weather
For more vulnerable people, such as the elderly, hot weather can bring further health issues and discomfort such as breathing problems and dehydration that can result in hospitalisation.
After the death of 2,000 people in the 2003 heatwave in England, local authorities and emergency services have worked together to develop an annual heatwave plan in order to reduce the toll as much as possible. As part of this initiative, people are being encouraged to support the more vulnerable in society as the temperatures rise.
Public Health England (PHE) have advised elderly and vulnerable people to stay cool and out of the sun as much as possible. PHE are also urging people to keep an eye on their elderly relatives, friends and neighbours and check in with them as much as possible. We have compiled some tips that will help you care for the elderly during the hot weather:
The simplest, most effective way to stay healthy in the heat is to encourage the elderly to increase their fluid intake.
? Avoid dehydrating drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol.
? Help your elderly friends and family to prepare hydrating snacks such as watermelon, cucumber and strawberries – all of which have a very high water content.
? Make it fun. Have a tea break with an older neighbour (with cake!) or make fruity mocktails (alcohol free cocktails).
? Sit with your loved ones whilst they eat and remind them to sip at their drink.
? Hot drinks are still great choices so try Horlicks, decaffeinated tea, or hot chocolate.
Make changes in the home
There are many changes that can be made in the home to keep cool.
? Close curtains and blinds in sun facing rooms to keep them cooler.
? Open windows when it feels cooler outside.
? Some people wear warm clothes by habit, especially older people who tend to feel the cold more. This can be dangerous to health. Encourage light natural fabrics such as linen and even cotton.
? Keep icy treats in the freezer. Fruit and yoghurts are good options.
? Encourage your elderly loved ones to stay inside between 11-3 when possible and advise them to not do anything too strenuous in this time period. Perhaps take them out for breakfast or dinner so that they still get out on hotter days but during cooler times.
Recognise signs of heat related illness
Hot weather can cause a range of nasty side effects including lethargy, nausea, muscle cramps and confusion. High temperatures can also have a negative effect on your skin, with heat rash and heat edema (swelling) of the legs and hands the most common issues.
Fainting is also a scary predicament that the elderly could find themselves in if they don’t drink enough fluids and find shade. People faint when their blood pressure drops due to the heat causing the blood vessels to expand, with body fluids moving down into the legs due to gravity.
If someone you know is experiencing these or any other worrying symptoms, contact a GP or call 111. You can also find further advice at NHS Choices.
Telecare Alarms can help
A Telecare Alarm is a helpful device for the elderly all year round, but they could be particularly helpful during the hot summer months. Using a Telecare Alarm system is nice and easy, with users simply pressing the red pendant button which will be on their wrist or around their neck.
Our 24-hour monitoring centre will respond immediately, assess the situation and call for help in the form of friends, family, neighbours and the emergency services should they be required.
If an elderly resident feels dizzy or unwell during the hot weather all they would need to do is to press their pendant and help will be sent their way. Having an option such as this could make all the difference – especially if you are living alone.