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Keeping Cool As Temperatures Soar

Elderly man in heat outside cooling down with flannel on his head

For many, the predicted soaring of temperature will bring excitement and optimism of fun times ahead over the next few days. For others, particularly the frail/elderly and those with medical conditions, the news of a heatwave can be cause for concern. The older generation is at particular risk of over-heating as naturally over time, the body loses its efficiency to regulate temperature. Health-related conditions such as poor blood circulation, heart, lung and kidney diseases and the taking of certain medications may all contribute to being prone to over-heating. Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are especially dangerous for the elderly and can have very serious consequences and heat stroke may well require medical attention.

Those living with dementia may be at particular risk, especially if they are at home alone; forgetting to drink fluids throughout the day may lead to heightened levels of confusion resulting from a rise in body temperature.

All of us can feel the effects of over-heating but those living with MS may well experience changes such as fatigue, more difficulty with balance and even temporary visual impairments. Indeed, it is common for people with MS to feel the changes in heat more and so it is especially important to take precautions to keep the environment as cool as possible.

A symptom of Parkinson’s can be excessive sweating and naturally this will increase in times of soaring temperatures and can pose really uncomfortable conditions.

Although the heat can affect people in many different ways, there are common ways in which to try to keep cool and well-hydrated. Family carers and care workers across the country will be gearing up to keep an extra special eye on their loved ones over the next few days and in light of this we thought a few top tips for all would be an idea.

How to prepare the home for the heat:

  • Drink water throughout the day

  • Dress is cool/light clothing

  • Stay out of the direct sunlight

  • Keep curtains closed (when the window is in direct sun)

  • Open the windows on opposite sides of the house to create a through-draft

  • Eat small, regular meals

  • Take a cool/lukewarm shower

  • Pop a fan in to the home

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol – drink herbal teas, juice & squash instead

Symptoms to watch for of over-heating:

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Muscle Spasm

  • Strange behaviour

  • Rapid pulse

  • Flushed skin

If you need to lower the body temperature quickly:

  • Ensure the person is out of direct sunlight

  • Turn on a fan/air-conditioning (if you have it)

  • Run wrists under cold water

  • A cool/wet flannel on to the forehead

  • Remove any unnecessary clothing

  • Ask them to sip on a drink (not alcohol or caffeine) – rather water & fruit juices

  • Encourage the person to have a cool bath or shower

If you suspect the person you are with has heatstroke, take their temperature. If they have a temperature of 40 c or more then call for medical help.

Many of the tips and ideas for keeping cool in the heat are common sense; the trick is just to be mindful that you put some of them in to play around your home and the homes of the vulnerable before it gets too hot! A plea to all, to watch out for the well-being of your relatives, neighbours and anyone you care for or about over the next few days; and of course a wish too for everyone to have the chance to enjoy the weather too.

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