How to look after the elderly in a heatwave

How to look after the elderly in a heatwave

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Lola Sherwin

Dec, 2022 - 4mins
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With temperatures across the UK soaring over the last few days and being expected to rise even further in the coming weeks, it’s essential to know how to properly look after the elderly during a heatwave, as not doing so comes with risks. We’ve compiled a list of helpful hints and tips that will help you to ensure that you are caring properly for the elderly during this hot weather period.

Who is the most at risk during a heatwave?

During a heatwave, there are certain individuals who are recognised by care organisations as being especially vulnerable. These groups include:

  •  The elderly, especially females over the age of 75
  • Those living on their own
  • Those who are on certain types of medication such as diuretics or whom are on multiple medications
  • People who suffer with certain chronic or severe physical or mental illnesses including, but not limited to, respiratory diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s or related diseases

It is therefore incredibly important to ensure that we are caring appropriately for these groups during heatwaves, as otherwise they could suffer dangerous risks to their health.

Why are the elderly more vulnerable to overheating?

The elderly are more vulnerable to overheating due to a number of reasons. Firstly, their bodies don’t adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature, so they can have adverse reactions to a considerable rise in temperature. This is further amplified if they suffer from chronic medical conditions, as these can affect how the body responds to heat. Additionally, certain prescription medicines can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature, and, in some cases, can prevent sweating.

How can I care for the elderly during a heatwave?

Check that the person’s home has adequate ventilation and water supplies

Ensure that the person for whom you are caring has sufficient ventilation, and provide fans if necessary and place them in a suitable location to ensure that the elderly person is kept cool at all times. Additionally, make sure to check their water supply to ensure they have the facilities needed to stay hydrated.

Ensure that blinds and windows are closed during the day

Closing the blinds and the windows during the hottest hours of the day and then opening the windows once the temperature has dropped is one good way of regulating the temperature inside a home. Make sure to do this every day to regulate the temperature as best as you can. Additionally, try to keep the elderly person in cooler parts of the building where possible.

Keep the elderly person hydrated

Making sure that the elderly person is hydrated is of the utmost importance. Provide them with plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine, sugary drinks and alcohol. Consider keeping water jugs in the fridge to help cool them down.

Make sure they are wearing appropriate clothing

Clothing can play a huge part in the regulation of body temperature, so where possible, make sure the elderly person is wearing loose, cotton clothing to keep them cool. It can also be helpful to keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge and spray their exposed body parts at regular intervals.

Monitor room temperature

Install thermometers where those receiving care spend substantial time (for example, bedrooms, living and eating areas) and ensure relevant staff know how to check, record, and follow internal procedures if a cause for concern is identified.

How can I cool someone down who has heatstroke?

If you suspect that the elderly person for whom you are caring has heatstroke, call 999 immediately. While you wait for the ambulance, try and move the elderly person to a cooler place and increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan.

You can also try to cool them down by spraying them with cool water, wrapping them in a cool, damp sheet or giving them a cool shower. If they are conscious, you should also encourage them to drink plenty of fluids, and remember that it’s important to never give them aspirin or paracetamol in this situation.

If you need support or advice why not get in touch with us and see how we can help.

Photo credit Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

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