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Heatwave Warning for The Elderly

Will Donnelly, Care Expert and Co-Founder of Lottie, shares his tips on how to keep elderly residents safe during the hot weather.

The Met Office has issued its first extreme heat-health alert warning ahead of this week’s predicted record high temperatures – with some parts of the UK reaching 40C this week. A heatwave can affect anyone, however extreme heat brings greater health risks to those over 75 and especially to those with dementia. It’s therefore vital that care homes take additional safety precautions to keep care home residents cool and appropriately supported.

Make sure drinks are easy-to-reach

Ensure that residents have access to regular cold drinks. For instance, place a jug of fresh, cold water in every room and in residents’ usual places, including next to their favourite chair.

You may find it helpful to place any refreshments in brightly coloured glasses, so it captures their attention when they’re moving around their home. 

Offer the right foods

Dehydration is a common challenge for older people, especially for those with dementia. Fortunately, it’s not only drinks that can help top up fluid levels: lots of fruit and vegetables are also great sources of water. 

Cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, melon, and oranges have lots of water, so they make the perfect snack. You could make a lovely, fresh fruit salad for residents and staff alike to tuck into.

Appropriate Dress

There’s a high risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke when it’s very hot outside. To prevent any heat-related conditions, make sure residents are wearing light-coloured, loose clothing.

If any resident living with dementia dresses themselves, they may wear their usual clothes and forget to dress for the warmer weather. The most important thing is that they feel cool and comfortable, and their risk of heatstroke will reduce. 

Find ways to cool off

A cool bath or shower works wonders for cooling people down during a heatwave. If you notice a resident is hot, move them to a cool place and gently spray them with cool water. A fan will also cool them down and ensure they stay well. Make sure you stay with them until they’re better.

Seek support immediately

If any residents experience any signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, it’s important to seek support from a medical professional.

Heatstroke puts your health at risk, especially when you get older. If you or someone else has a high temperature of 40C or above, is breathing fast, and generally feels unwell, call 999. Heatstroke can be very serious if it isn’t treated quickly.

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