Knowing how to stay safe during a heatwave is important for everyone. However, heatwave advice and action is especially important for elderly people who live at home or in a specialist care facility. Summer 2022 has seen record highs in temperatures, reaching up to 40℃ in some areas of the UK.
Here are 5 tips when giving heatwave advice to the elderly.
1. Stay out of the sun in a cool place, preferably with air conditioning
The best advice for staying safe during a heatwave is to stay out of direct sun exposure. Only go outside if necessary. If you do, stick to areas of shade or buildings with air conditioning.
Try to avoid any outdoor activities, or do them early in the morning when temperatures are lower. For example, loved ones at Stanfield Nursing Home regularly visit our care home garden to relax outside, do some gardening or take a short outdoor walk. Therefore our heatwave advice for our elderly patients is to plan their outdoor activities for the morning or a different day when it is cooler.
When staying inside, spend time in the coolest areas of your house. Ways to reduce temperatures indoors:
- Keep your blinds and curtains closed
- Open your windows at night in multiple rooms to create airflow
- Have a fan or air conditioning unit in your rooms
- Turn off light in rooms unless absolutely required
- Limit the use of hot appliances, like the oven or hob
2. Drink plenty of fluids
Staying hydrated helps your body stay cool and regulate your core temperature. This particular piece of heatwave advice is crucial for the elderly. People aged 60 and above already face a higher risk of dehydration in general. So hot weather can make it even worse.
Increase liquid intake by drinking lots of water and eating fruits and vegetables high in water content like pineapple and cucumber. Make sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Fluids you could consider:
- Milkshakes made with ice cream
- Cold shandies made with alcohol-free beer
- Fresh fruit or flavoured water
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dryness of the mouth, lips and tongue
- Sunken eyes
- Dry inelastic skin
- Drowsiness, confusion or disorientation
- Dizziness and low blood pressure
3. Take a cool shower, bath, or stick your feet in water
If your house is still not cool enough, you can use cold water to stay safe during a heatwave.
Using water below body temperature helps for maximum cooling. A cold shower or bathing in a cold bath is very effective for this. You can also wipe your body with a cold washcloth or stick your feet in cold water for the same effect.
If you are preparing this for someone, such as your loved one, ensure the water is cool but not too cold.
4. Eat light meals
Changes in body temperature can also change food cravings. As these cravings change, how can you ensure the food you’re eating is keeping you safe during a heatwave?
Eat light, cold meals like chicken or pasta salad instead of heavy, hot dishes like a pot roast.
Food to eat during a heatwave:
- Leafy greens (these are composed of 80 – 95% water!)
At our Worcester nursing home, we have an in-house chef that prepares all meals using locally sourced ingredients. As part of our person-centred care, we tailor food choices to people’s preferences, as well as being appropriate for the weather.
5. Wear light clothing
Simple changes to your clothing can make a large difference. Wear breathable layers of loose, lightweight clothing and fabrics like cotton.
You can also benefit from choosing light-coloured clothes as well! Dark-coloured clothes can absorb heat making you feel warmer even if they are lightweight.
Staying safe during a heatwave
If you or your loved one are showing signs of dehydration, heat stroke or heat exhaustion, visit your doctor or go to an emergency room immediately.
Elderly Care in Worcestershire
If you are interested in the elderly care we provide at Stanfield Nursing Home, please visit our website today. Alternatively, you can call 01905 420 459 to speak to a member of our helpful and friendly team. You can also check out our social media for daily updates.
If you have found this useful, you may wish to read our blog about Summer Activities at Stanfield.