Keeping older people safe in the hot weather is everybody’s job. If you are an older person or you have a loved one or a neighbour that is an older person they may be more vulnerable and more at risk and should be supported. This might mean popping round more often or more regular phone calls to make sure they are well. When you go round make sure their environment is safe and that they have access to fluids and appropriate food. Please read on and see some of the simplest steps that we can take to lessen the risk.
We often moan about the weather in this country, normally because it is cold and wet, but every few years we get the opposite and when a heatwave hits we are often not ready for it. This can be especially concerning if you are older or if you are supporting an older person. While making the most of the warmer weather, we should also staff safe.
Inside your home:
- Keep the curtains closed on those windows where the sun is directly shining, you will be surprised just how this simple step will drop the temperature. You don’t need to keep all your curtains shut all day just keep up as the sun moves and open the others as the sun is no longer shining on windows.
- Consider keeping windows shut when the temperature outside is higher than that inside, it may be nice to have a breeze but just consider which makes you most comfortable.
- Fans help keep you cooler by making sweating more efficient and effective but they don’t cool the room down, if you position a bowl of iced water in front of the fan this may act more like an air conditioner. Make sure it is safe as electricity and water don’t mix.
- Keep hydrated; it is vital to drink and consume plenty of fluids as it can be really hard to catch up on fluids once you are dehydrated. This isn’t limited to water you can also:
a. Eat fruit such as melon
b. Eat ice lollies and ice cream
c. Eat jelly or custard
d. Eat meals that are high in fluid such as soups, if you have a gravy dinner put more on than you normally would.
- It is not just water you need to replace, you also lose salts from sweating so try and eat normally even if you don’t feel hungry.
- Wear light and airy clothing that will allow your body to breathe, linen or cotton is often a good choice.
- If you go outside try and stay in the shade, keep covered and wear sun tan lotion and a hat. Try and avoid the hottest part of the day between 11:00 and 15:00
- Have regular cool baths or showers if that is practicable, also consider a cool wet handkerchief on the back of your neck.
- Only leave windows open overnight if it is safe to do so.
- If you take regular medication discuss with your GP or pharmacist whether you need to take special storage precautions or whether the heat will affect the way they work on you.
- If you are worried that you are getting dehydrated contact a friend or family member or seek medical advice.
Greensleeves Care are an award-winning charity, recently voted by Which? Magazine the Best Care Charity in the UK. We have more than 20 years’ experience supporting and caring for older people.