Top health tips for the elderly during hot weather

Summer may still seem like it has yet to get going, but the hot weather will soon be upon us. If you have an elderly parent or relative, now is a good time to start thinking about ways to keep cool should a heatwave strike.

Heatwaves and Health For the Elderly

Few people complain about warm summer days, but when the heat gets too much, enjoyment can quickly turn to discomfort. Even worse, a heatwave can present a danger to elderly people.

According to the NHS, it is the elderly, the seriously ill and the very young who suffer the most when the temperature rises. The over 75s and people suffering from mobility problems like Parkinson’s are particularly at risk.

It cites the 2003 heatwave, which lasted for nine days and saw temperatures of up to 38°C. This heatwave was responsible for between 2,000 and 3,000 deaths in the UK, and across Europe the figure was as high as 30,000.

If you have an elderly parent, it is therefore a very good idea to make sure you prepare properly for a hot summer.

How Hot Is Too Hot?

We don’t need to see temperatures in the high 30s before things start to get dangerous for the elderly. In fact, if the temperature is 30°C during the day for two days in a row, the effects on health can start to become a problem.

There are a few major risk areas for the elderly. Overheating is one of the most common risks, and this can also worsen existing problems such as heart and breathing problems. Dehydration is another serious risk, as is heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

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How to Help Your Elderly Parent Cope

There are a number of ways that you can reduce the risk for your elderly parent and help them to remain comfortable when the temperature soars. These include:

  • Advise them to stay out of the sun from 11am to 3pm when the day is at its hottest.
  • Close the windows and pull the blinds during the day, then open the windows in the evening if the temperature cools sufficiently.
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of cool drinks throughout the day. Ensure they always have enough in the fridge.
  • Suggest they wear clothing that is loose and cool.
  • Recommend that they do any outside activities like gardening in the morning or evening, and to avoid doing too much physical activity.
  • If they get particularly hot, suggest that they take a cool shower or bath during the day.
  • Forward planning is also a good idea. This could involve stocking up on enough food and drink to keep them going over the duration of the heatwave so they do not need to go shopping on hot days.

Look Out for the Warning Signs of Overheating

Overheating can affect elderly people very quickly, so it’s important that you and your home care worker know the signs to look out for. These include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Cramps

If any of these symptoms get worse, always seek medical help. If your parent has a breathing or heart problem, be especially vigilant for warning signs because high temperatures can exacerbate these.

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Avoid the Danger of Overheating this Summer

In Britain we are not accustomed to high temperatures in the summer every year, but this can make heatwaves especially dangerous because we are less prepared. When a hot spell arrives, the negative impacts on the health of the elderly can increase quite suddenly, so it is always wise to be prepared.

Make sure you prepare in advance and familiarise yourself with the warning signs, and act quickly if you suspect that your elderly parent is suffering from the heat.

If you require help during hot weather, which can include checking on your elderly relatives or even providing live-in care we are always available to discuss any requirements you might have on 01903 255456.