Stay heat aware with Home Instead...

Sun and heat can post particular problems to many, especially those that are older or at risk.

As we move towards the summer, it’s important to be aware of risks and ways to prevent problems during warmer weather and in extreme heat.

With sunshine and heat, comes the very real risk of dehydration, the aggravation of existing health conditions and also skin damage, if exposed to the sun – especially for those that are older. There are things that we can all do to lessen risk, such as…

Stay in the shade

In the upcoming heat, the advice is clear: stay indoors, in a cool, well-ventilated space. Choose your room wisely. If the dining room is shaded and happens to be the coolest spot in the house, make that your base for the day, and keep the windows open and curtains drawn in the bedroom, to keep it from overheating, in readiness for the night ahead. Opening windows wide, early on during the day, and keep curtains and blinds drawn. If you really must venture out, always apply sunscreen of SPF 30 to all exposed skin and top up every couple of hours, even if not in the sun. Skin becomes fragile with age, and it is vital to protect it. Pop your sun hat and sunglasses on. Check, do your glasses have a CE mark, UV400 label or a statement that they offer 100 per cent UV (ultraviolet) protection. Most importantly, stay in the shade.

Hydration matters

Staying well hydrated is key, so make sure that you and your loved one are drinking plenty of fluids, noting that this doesn’t include caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which will actually dehydrate. Aim to drink 6 – 8 glasses of liquid a day, and more if it’s hot. Using a straw will help to get the fluids down far quicker, for some. Buy a refillable bottle and place it in an easily accessible spot, especially if they have mobility issues. Perhaps add fruit, berries or lemon to the water, to add flavour. Eating a balanced diet will also help your body to replace salts lost through sweating.

Less is more

Consider your clothing. Wear loose fitting clothes in a breathable material, such as cotton which will allow your body to breath and sweat naturally. Avoid fabrics like polyester and denim.

Know your medications

It’s vital to remember that some medications (like diuretics) can cause an older person to become dehydrated quite rapidly in extreme heat. Remain mindful of the medications that your loved one is taking, so that you can then increase their normal fluid intake if need be.

Spot the warning signs, early

Even with careful measures in place, it is easy for us to feel the effects of extreme heat, especially as we age.  Heat exhaustion can be serious, so it is vital to look out for the common signs, such as: headaches, dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting, intense thirst, heavy sweating and a fast pulse.

One of the quickest ways to test if a person is dehydrated is to lift the skin on the back of their hand. Using your index finger and thumb, gently pinch a section of skin from the back of the hand, lift up, and let go. If the skin quickly falls down, back onto the top of their hand, they are not dehydrated. If it remains raised, it is time to act. Initially, find a cool place and loosen tight clothes, drink plenty of water or fruit juice, sponge with cool water or have a cool (not cold) shower. If symptoms don’t improve within 30 minutes, it’s really important that you seek medical advice.

Don’t delay

If the warning signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion are present but ignored, they can become life-threatening. Your loved one may suffer from the following:

  • Rapid, but weak heart rate
  • Sunken eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • No sweating
  • Delirium
  • Convulsions
  • Bloated stomach
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failureIf you are at all concerned, act fast Call 111 for urgent advice, or if need be dial 999. Visit the NHS for further information, HERE.Our Care Professionals are trained to spot the key signs of dehydration and will do their utmost to make a client comfortable and most importantly, safe, in extreme weather conditions. If you would like to have the reassurance of a trained and trusted Care Professional on hand, do get in touch. Further information can be found via our website or you are very welcome to call us on 01395 200600 to discuss how we can support you and your family.