With scientists claiming that there is a 75% chance that the summer of 2014 is set to be the hottest on record, many of us are no doubt enjoying experiencing some much-needed sun. However, it’s not quite as pleasant for certain groups, including the elderly, as they may find it harder than us to cope with, especially when it comes to cooling down.
If you are a carer or simply want to provide a bit of extra support for a loved one during these warmer months and want some tips on how to do so effectively, we’ve put a list of some together to help you.
Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated is key when it comes to keeping heat related problems at bay, as is avoiding large, heavy and hot meals; especially in the middle of the day. Instead, eat little and often and always ensure you have enough to drink – as a rule, you should ensure that you/your loved ones never feel thirst.Dress in loose, cool clothing
Quality ‘adaptive’ clothing can not only be useful for seniors with certain mobility/health problems, but also for when it comes to keeping cool in the summer. There’s a website here with good adaptive clothing. Layering is a good idea as you can add/remove layers as and when you need to.
Avoid strenuous activity, especially outdoors
Especially during the middle of the day, exercise should be kept to a minimum to avoid heat stress and exhaustion. Ensure that you and your loved ones get plenty of rest in the warm weather and that if you are involved in physical activities that you are well hydrated and have access to shade if outdoors, too.
Keep an eye on medication and how you store it
Heat can effect medication in different ways, so ensure they are stored correctly – usually away from direct sunlight. If in doubt as to how to store your medication, always consult your GP or pharmacist.
Stay in well ventilated areas throughout the day and night
All care homes for the elderly should have well ventilated areas, and if the senior you are helping is in their home, consider investing in a air conditioning system with them to help, as opening a window won’t be enough and can actually be worse.
Getting fresh air in the summer is usually best left to very early in the morning or during the evening when the temperatures will be significantly lower than that in the rest of the day.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion
There’s a really useful NHS article on the signs of heat exhaustion, and it’s important that you familiarise yourself with these so that you can tackle any issues early on to avoid them from becoming serious problems.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can actually leave the body more dehydrated, so keep these substances to a minimum, instead, substituting water, juice and squash.