The UK is currently experiencing its longest heatwave in 20 years. It is so hot right now that roadways are melting, railways are buckling, workers have been advised to avoid wearing suits to work, and the Met Office has issued its second-highest possible heatwave alert. As UK temperatures rise past those in Los Angeles, Madrid and even Istanbul, it is important to manage your temperature as best as possible, especially for the elderly. As it is often harder to self-regulate internal body temperate as you age, the elderly are at the greatest risk of the dangers that extreme heat can cause.
Follow these top tips to keep your loved ones safe and comfortable while the sun is out!
When temperatures rise, remember to regularly check on your elderly family members and friends by visiting in person. While checking in on your elderly loved ones, remind seniors – especially those affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease – of the risks associated with extreme temperatures, the signs of these risks and how to best avoid them.
2. Hydrate, hydrate again, and then hydrate some more
Staying hydrated is the one of the most important ways to keep everyone safe in the heat. As we age, our sense of thirst lessens, which can mean that we don’t realise when we are thirsty, which is dangerous. Additionally, certain medications that seniors may be taking can sometimes make it slightly harder than usual to stay hydrated. As a result, it is important to make sure that seniors are drinking 6-8 glasses of water each day, even if they don’t feel the thirst.
The signs of dehydration include dry mouth or skin, light-headedness, absence of sweating, and low blood pressure or an increasing heartbeat.
3. Reduce direct sunlight exposure
It is recommended that seniors avoid direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the days, and when they must be outdoors - frequently apply sunscreen and be sure to wear lightweight clothing. To further reduce intense sunlight exposure, closing blinds and curtains can block out the sunlight.
4. Control living space temperatures
Keeping your loved ones’ living spaces cool and comfortable is also important. Be careful to make sure that seniors’ homes are well-equipped with working air conditioners that they can access throughout the entire day. In the event of continued heat stress, be prepared to further reduce temperatures by removing extra clothing or bedding or by immersing the affected in cool water.
5. Monitor for medical conditions
It is crucial to be vigilant around those with medical conditions like asthma or various heart conditions when it comes to the hot weather. Speak to doctors to check whether medications should be adjusted or whether extra care is necessary. One of the most dangerous medical conditions brought on by rising temperatures is heat stroke. Monitor for heatstroke by watching for signs like profuse sweating, nausea, disorientation, cold/clammy skin, fatigue, muscle weakness, or shallow breathing and vomiting.