Summer has arrived and as the nights get stuffier and the temperatures rise, older adults need to be careful of overheating and heat stroke because their bodies can’t adjust as quickly to high temperatures as younger people.
Those with mobility problems can get some respite during hot spells by using curved stair lifts at home to get up and down staircases, but to help seniors stay safe and comfortable, here are some heat-related illnesses to be aware of and some tips to help older people stay cool.
There are many symptoms older people need to be aware of and here are some of the most common heat-related illnesses.
• Respiratory and cardio vascular diseases
• Heat cramps – this is caused by dehydration and a loss of electrolytes
• Heat rash – small, red, itchy papules
• Heat oedema – retention of fluid, mainly in the ankles
• Heat syncope – this causes dizziness and sometimes fainting, which is usually as a result of dehydration
• Heat exhaustion – this is one of the most common heat-related illnesses and is often caused by a lack of water or sodium
• Heatstroke – symptoms include confusion, disorientation, hot dry skin, convulsions and even unconsciousness. This is caused when the core body temperature exceeds 40ºC for between 45 minutes and eight hours.
This may seem an obvious point but dehydration is one of the main risks posed to older people, according to the NHS website.
A study in the US also found that 40% of all heat-related deaths were among older people aged 65 or over.
Dehydration is caused when people do not drink enough to replace the fluid that is lost and the heat as well as diet can be factors in causing dehydration.
Older people should avoid drinking lots of tea, coffee or fizzy drinks that contain caffeine, but diluted squash is beneficial during hot spells. Anybody that is feeling really dehydrated can pop into their local pharmacy and buy rehydration fluids.
Try to avoid the heat and if it is really hot outside, then try not to go outside between 11am and 3pm as this is the hottest part of the day. Instead, head out early in the morning and in the late evening hours as the temperatures will be more bearable.
It is important that older people stay under the shade should they need to venture outside when it is really hot by walking on pavements that are in shade or by bringing an umbrella.
“It is so important that staff are educated and reminded about the risks involved at the time of a heatwave for our elderly vulnerable residents. They often can’t tell us ‘move me in the shade’ or ‘it’s too hot for me here’, so we all have a responsibility to ensure we are vigilant at all times to ensure the residents are safe from harm. We frequently circulate the Public Health England Beat the Heat campaign information and discuss the implementation of safety measures with staff.”
Wearing sun cream is another necessity as this will protect a person’s skin from burning and it is important to wear protection that is SPF 30 or above.
There are lots of items available that can help people keep cool during a hot spell of weather. Often during a heat wave it can be really difficult to sleep and one item older people can buy to try and stay cool during the night is the JML Chillmax Pillow Cooling Gel Insert.
The product, which is sold by Robert Dyas, contains a gel that reacts to a person’s body temperature and absorbs the excess heat that person creates and therefore produces a naturally cooling effect.
The product can be used as a pillow or seat cushion to stop users overheating and as a result of its compact design the pillow can be taken on day trips out. This product really helps during hot and sticky nights.
During hot weather, older people certainly do not want to be wearing jumpers or warm trousers and it is therefore important to wear loose, breathable clothing as this will help prevent heat getting trapped against the body.
Light coloured clothing is great for wearing during hot, sunny spells as it reflects the sun and doesn’t absorb the heat.
Wearing a hat will keep the sun off the head, neck and shoulders and reduce the likelihood of someone suffering from heatstroke.
Sunglasses are another great accessory to use during hot weather as aging eyes can take longer to adjust to changes in light and wearing sunglasses will help protect their eyes.
Check windows can be shaded by curtains that have pale, reflective linings and also check that windows can open properly.
Cavity wall and loft insulation can help keep homes warm in the winter, but cooler in the summer and older people can contact their local authority’s energy efficiency officer or an energy company to see what grants are available.
Another tip older people can follow to keep their home cool is to create cool rooms or cool areas and this is easily achieved by buying indoor and outdoor shading and making sure the room has plenty of ventilation. Electric fans are an option to produce ventilation, whilst providing some much-needed relief.
While baths and showers are relaxing, too many hot baths or showers can cause overheating and make the bathroom feel like a sauna.
This doesn’t mean older people shouldn’t bathe or shower, but it is best to stick to cool or lukewarm water temperatures as these help people feel more refreshed.
Another great tip is to wet a cold towel as this will help people to keep cool and it is best to place the wet towel around the neck area.
This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.