10 tips to help the elderly keep cool this summer

10 tips to help the elderly keep cool this summer

Posted by Declan Davey

Summer Heat and The Elderly: 10 Tips to Keep Cool

The summer weather is hit-and-miss in the UK, but we need to prepare for the possibility of a heatwave.

The Autumna team often gets an increase in calls in July and August. Relatives of elderly people contact us with concerns about how a hot spell can impact their loved one’s health.

In this article, Autumna will answer the key questions about summer heat and elderly safety. 

  1. Guidelines on how seniors can keep cool during the warmer months
  2. The ideal room temperature for elderly people
  3. Heatstroke symptoms in the elderly

Elderly sun worshipper.
Elderly sun worshipper

Hot Weather Tips For Seniors — How to Stay Comfortable and Cool

Tip 1. Limit direct sun exposure

      Elderly people can avoid the worst of the summer heat by scheduling activities during cooler hours. We suggest early-mid morning or late afternoon and evening. 

      If you need to attend appointments, ask if slots are available slots at the start or the end of the day. This will reduce harmful exposure to UV rays during peak hours.

      Tip 2. Drink more water

          This is the most obvious tip and for good reason. Elderly people are at risk of dehydration during hot weather due to water loss through perspiration. 

          The standard 6-8 glasses of water recommendation for mild weather increases to 10 glasses during a hot spell.

          Tip 3. Wear light-coloured clothing

              Avoid dark clothes like black and navy, where possible. Colours such as white or pink don’t absorb as much heat. 

              T-shirts and light blouses are usually preferable on warm days.

              Light-coloured clothing helps keep heat at bay.
              Light coloured clothing can deflect heat

              Tip 4. Use fans

                  Place a standing fan where you’re likely to be during the warmest hours of the day. You can then move the fan to the bedroom at night. 

                  A mini hand fan can also be a practical tool for when you’re outside.

                  Tip 5. Eat cold foods such as salads or smoothies

                      One of the best ways for elderly people to manage the summer heat is by reviewing meal plans. 

                      Cooler foods such as salads and smoothies can help with heat relief. For those who are allowed ice cream, this can also be a good idea (now and then!)

                      Tip 6. Try ice packs

                          These are useful for being able to dab your face and chest with something cool. 

                          Freeze ice cubes in advance and place them in a zip-up bag when you need them. Keep a towel nearby for any drips as the ice begins to melt.

                          Tip 7. Switch duvets for light sheets

                              A thick duvet is cosy during winter, but it can do more harm than good in the summer. 

                              You’ll need to keep your body temperature relatively cool to sleep well. In hot weather, change the bed linen to a lighter sheet to avoid tossing and turning all night.

                              Tip 8. Cool off with foot baths

                                  Have you ever had a foot bath? If not, then a heatwave is the perfect time to give it a go!

                                  Pour some cool (not freezing) water into a bucket for easy heat relief. You can dip your feet in the water whilst sitting in a comfortable chair.

                                  Tip 9. Take a trip to the woods

                                      If you’re able to venture out, spending some time in the woods could be a great idea. 

                                      The canopy of trees in bloom provides much-needed shade from the sun.

                                      Tip 10. Don’t have air conditioning? Go to these places instead

                                          Air conditioning is a blessing during the summer months, but many households don’t have access to this. Instead, visit community settings where air conditioning is in place. 

                                          Cafes, libraries, and recreation centres may be worth a try. Be sure to phone in advance to double-check that they’re open.

                                          A woodland walk can be a great way to keep cool
                                          A woodland walk to keep cool

                                          What Is The Ideal Room Temperature For Elderly People?

                                              The NHS advises that the ideal room temperature for elderly people is at least 18°C. However, this guideline relates to staying well in cold weather. 

                                              What temperature is too high for seniors, then?

                                              The normal body temperature is 37°C, but adults over 65 often experience a decrease in body temperature — to around 36.2°C. 

                                              Health In Aging states that when the temperature is over 80°F (26.7°C), seniors ought to take precautions to reduce the risk of overheating. 

                                              Bear in mind that the temperature inside your home can vary from the temperature outside. 

                                              Do you have concerns about how you or an elderly relative will manage in the summer heat?

                                              Installing a thermometer may help you feel more at ease.

                                              If the temperature in the home does reach 26-27°C, you can take action on some of the 10 tips mentioned above.

                                              Heat Stroke Symptoms in The Elderly

                                                  Heatstroke symptoms in the elderly are the same as they are for people of other ages, but there are two risk factors for seniors to pay attention to:

                                                  1. Over 65s are more likely to have underlying health conditions that make a case of heatstroke even more serious.
                                                  2. Heatstroke symptoms in the elderly may be ignored, due to mistaking the symptoms for those of known health conditions.

                                                  Common symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, darker pee, and urinating less than four times a day.

                                                  People with diabetes are more susceptible to dehydration. Those taking diuretic medications (that make you pee more) also need to be careful.

                                                  The risk of heatstroke is lowered if early symptoms of dehydration are addressed.

                                                  But what are the heatstroke symptoms in elderly people to watch out for? Here’s a list of the main symptoms:

                                                  • Core body temperature over 40°C
                                                  • Red or hot skin
                                                  • Muscle weakness
                                                  • Fast heart rate 
                                                  • Fainting
                                                  • Shallow breathing
                                                  • Nausea/vomiting
                                                  • Lack of sweating despite the hot weather
                                                  • Confusion or disorientation

                                                  You may be wondering what you can do to prevent heatstroke in the event of a heatwave..

                                                  These are a few sensible strategies for managing the summer heat:

                                                  • Review any medications that may change how your body stays hydrated.
                                                  • Make sure to wear sunscreen over SPF 15.
                                                  • Have access to fluids at all times, particularly when leaving home.
                                                  • Wear a hat or protective item for the head.
                                                  • Avoid activity during the hottest parts of the day, which are typically 11 am - 3 pm

                                                  Autumna Advice line team
                                                  Autumna's friendly advice line team

                                                  Autumna offers free advice on all elderly care issues

                                                      Did you know you can use our website to search for local care at home and in the community?

                                                      In the search box on the home page, enter the area in which you are looking for home care, live-in care or care homes. Use the various filters to narrow down your search to find exactly which care homes or domiciliary services offer the type of elderly care you are looking for.

                                                      Use the shortcut menu and search for 'outstanding care homes' for example. Or if your search is simply based around  the question: "Where is there a care home near me?" or "Where can I find a home care service or live in care agency near me?" then simply filter by distance.

                                                      Source: Autumna

                                                      It's easy to find elderly care through the Autumna homepage
                                                      Autumna elderly care directory homepage

                                                      For more elderly support, you can visit our various detailed advice pages.

                                                      If you have a question like “What are the best care homes near me?” or “How much does Lasting Power of Attorney cost?” call our friendly team of experts on 01892 33 53 30. 

                                                      Our thanks to healthcare writer, Declan Davey for his help putting this blog together.

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