Looking after people with dementia during hot weather
We have had quite a bit of warm weather recently and some people may be concerned about what this means for those they know who have dementia. Even though the lockdown is easing, families may still be concerned about the health and wellbeing of their relative with dementia. This can make it more difficult for people to see if someone with the condition is comfortable and well.
Due to communication difficulties a person with dementia may not be able to explain that they are dehydrated or feeling unwell because of the heat. It may also be harder for families to monitor for signs of heatstroke and dehydration and remind the person with dementia of the importance of drinking. For families living apart from a relative, you could consider using technology, such as alerts on smart devices, which can remind a person that they need to drink throughout the day.
Some medication can be affected by a person’s dehydration and this may lead to a drop in blood pressure. This can lead to falls or fainting. You can avoid this by keeping track of when the person with dementia takes their medication. Sticking to the same schedule every day and ensuring the medication is taken with water is advisable.
Sometimes a person with dementia may get confused with what clothing to wear during the heat. They may wear fleeces, thick coats or jackets instead of cool and loose fitting clothing. In situations like this, you can look at buying a similar style of clothing made out of a much thinner natural fabric. If you live with the person, put out a clean set of cool clothing every day in the morning so they know what to wear.
If you know a family living with dementia, you can contact them and ask if there is anything they need to keep cool in the heat. They may be unable to visit supermarkets for items to cool down.
Similarly if you know someone with dementia who is living on their own and far away with you, try and arrange for friends, neighbours or relatives to provide extra checks on them. They might also be willing to do supply runs for items like fans and light-coloured curtains to reflect the heat. These items can help people with dementia and the wider family keep cool throughout the day, reducing the risk of overheating and sweating.
Wearing a face covering
A person with dementia might find a face covering uncomfortable, especially in hot weather. If possible, try to avoid going to the shops or taking public transport while the heat wave is happening. If this is not possible, gently remind the person that there is a virus going round and that the mask is helping to keep them safe. For more advice on supporting a person with dementia to wear a face covering, see the Dementia Care advice about wearing a face covering.
Friary Care offer a range of Dementia Care services in Weymouth. If you would like to arrange a visit or discuss your care needs, please call Peter on 01305 787811.