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Lengthy heatwave poses risk to the elderly this summer

Britain is forecast to enjoy more high temperatures well into July. However, for the elderly, the heatwave can prove the opposite of enjoyable.

Whilst many of us will enjoy visiting the beach and sunbathing during the hottest times of the year, a heatwave can prove dangerous for the more vulnerable members of the community, particularly children and the elderly.

 

Why are high temperatures dangerous for the elderly?

 

Anyone can suffer from dehydration or heat stroke if they don’t take proper care of themselves in hot weather, however, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.

Our bodies become less efficient at regulating our temperature as we age. For example, people over 65 are unable to sweat as much as younger people, which is a key way in which our bodies keep us cool.

People over 65 are also more likely to suffer from mobility problems and chronic medical conditions which can make them more susceptible to heat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke.

 

What are the symptoms of heat-related illnesses?

 

During the heatwave, if you have elderly family or friends that live with you or alone, it is particularly important that you keep your eyes open for the symptoms below so you can get treatment immediately if necessary:

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is usually not considered a medical emergency, but if left untreated can lead to heatstroke, which is a much more serious condition. Here are the signs to look our for:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • High body temperature
  • Clamminess

To treat someone with heat exhaustion, ensure that they are moved to a cool space and get them to lay down with their feet elevated slightly if possible. 
Get them to drink plenty of water and you can cool them down using fans or water on their skin, particularly the neck area. They should begin to feel better within 30 minutes.

 

Heatstroke

Heatstroke can be life-threatening if not treated soon enough and is where your body’s temperature exceeds 40°C, you should call 999 immediately if you believe someone has these symptoms:

  • No improvement after 30 minutes
  • No sweating despite heat
  • They are struggling to breathe
  • Their temperature has risen above 40°C
  • They’ve fainted
  • They are not responding
  • They have a fit or seizure

 

How to protect the elderly from heat related illnesses

 

In order to reduce the risk for the elderly, certain precautions you can help enforce to ensure that they are not overly exposed to high temperatures:

  • Do not go outside during the hottest parts of the day, between 11-3pm
  • Wear loose, light coloured clothes 
  • Avoid too much exercise
  • Drink plenty of cold water

Here at Burley’s, our team knows the risks posed by the heat to our elderly clients at this time of year, particularly those that live alone. That’s why all our care team are trained to spot the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke and take responsible action in keeping your loved one cool and comfortable! Get in touch today to find out more about our care services.
 

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