The UK is currently in the middle of its hottest week of the year so far, and while many people are overjoyed at the sun finally making an appearance, not everybody will be feeling the same.

The government has issued a heat health warning, with the elderly, young and the vulnerable being most at risk of sunstroke and dehydration.

Whilst the sun can help people living with various issues and health conditions, it can also be a hinderance for those living with dementia.

The most common risk to people living with dementia during the summer months is dehydration – which can cause a plethora of further complications, as well as make the symptoms of dementia even worse.

Here’s what to look out for and how you can help.

Living with dementia in the heat

In general, as people get older, we lose the ability to control and regulate our body temperatures, and it becomes more difficult to adjust to sudden changes in temperature.

We know that dementia can affect people in various ways, from memory loss to confusion and communication. Because of this, it can be difficult for somebody living with dementia to vocalise how they’re feeling and that they are struggling with the heat and warm weather.

For those living with dementia, becoming dehydrated is much easier, so it’s important to keep your loved ones out of the sun and to remind them of the importance of keeping hydrated.

How to spot dehydration and sunstroke:

Here are the most common signs of dehydration that you should look out for:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Sickness
  • Seizures
  • Passing urine less frequently than normal
  • A weak or rapid pules
  • Excessive sweating or shivering

Tips for staying cool

There are a number of ways in which you can help somebody living with dementia stay cool.

  1. Hydration

If you think your friend or loved one is becoming dehydrated, then encourage them to drink plenty of water, squash or fruit juice. Leave a cold, refreshing drink nearby at all times, that is within easy reach for them.

If symptoms aren’t easing, speak to their care worker or health professional to seek further advice.

2. Clothing and keeping cool

It is also important to make sure that your friend or loved one is dressed appropriately, allowing them to stay cool, whilst also ensuring they have a fan if needed to reduce the risk of overheating.

Keeping cool inside the house is important, and closing curtains or blinds in the daytime is a good way to shut the sun out.

If somebody wants to be outside and enjoy the weather, ensure they are seated in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight

3. Technology

If your friend or loved one has a phone, make sure they keep it nearby so that you can regularly check in with them. This also ensures that they are able to contact you or call for help if need be.

The heat can cause further confusion for those living with dementia, so a smart device may be a good idea to set reminders to drink water, for mealtimes or to take medication.

4. Enlist professional support

Dementia is a complex condition, and additional support may be required when caring for friends, family members or loved ones.

Whether short-term or long-term, care workers can provide various methods of support to suit individual needs and in a capacity that suits current lifestyles.

The warm weather is set to continue on and off for the coming months, so it is important to be equipped and to into any future heatwaves armed with the right knowledge and information.

For more information or to speak to our team of experts, please email enquiries@radis.co.uk.

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