Hot weather can be difficult for anyone who is older for several reasons.  Older people are more likely to experience health issues like respiratory, heart and circulation problems which can be harder to manage in the heat. There is added complexity for people living with dementia because they may not realise they are overheating. So, we have pulled together some useful tips to help you or someone you support, cope better with hot weather.

Drink plenty fluids
  • It is really important to keep hydrated in hot weather. Drink plenty of liquids such as water or fruit or vegetable juices. Avoid anything containing alcohol or caffeine as they may cause dehydration. If your doctor has told you to limit your liquids, check what you should do when it is very hot.

  • If the person you care for forgets to drink, try leaving a jug of water in their direct eyeline or use electronic reminders such as Alexa or smart phone apps to prompt them.
  • A coloured drink like squash or cordial may be easier for the person to see and they might drink more if they enjoy the taste.
  • Sometimes people limit what they are drinking if they are worried about not getting to a toilet so make sure you know where the closest facilities are and reassure the person you support it is okay to drink more often .
Keep the house as cool as possible
  • Cook early in the day or late in the day when it is not so hot.

  • Keep your shades, blinds, or curtains closed during the hottest part of the day and make the most of the cooler evening air by opening your windows at night.
  • Fans can be helpful at keeping a room cool, but they can be noisy so it is best to check as this might disturb some people.
  • You could also create a shady place in the garden or visit a place that is cooler if your house is too hot. It could be a place that has air conditioning like a shopping area, a supermarket or visitor centres.
Dress for the heat
  • When dressing for very hot weather it is best to wear clothes made of light materials such as cotton or linen.
  • Some people with dementia may not recognise that they are overheating, or they may try to undress in an inappropriate place, so wearing a few light layers is a good idea.
  • Encourage the wearing of appropriate clothing by rotating clothes by season. Move heavier jumpers and winter coats to the back of the wardrobe or into storage and bring summer clothes to the front. 
  • Be creative and make your own lollies or iced fruit teas. Foods like ice-cream, yogurt, jelly or chilled fruit can help you keep cool.
Keeping cool outside
  • If you would like to go for a walk or do some gardening, it is best to do this in the early morning or evening when the sun is least hot and the air is cooler.
  • Crowded places get even hotter in a heatwave, so it is best to avoid them. If you need to go somewhere take advantage of quieter times or get someone else to go for you.
  • Make sure you have the right factor of sunscreen for the weather and apply it at regular times during the day. Check your bottle of sunscreen to see when it was opened, if it was opened over a year ago it may no longer offer the protection it says on the container.
  • Don't forget to apply lotion to feet. This area is often overlooked but is at risk of developing skin cancer the same as rest of the body.
  • Put on a cooling after-sun lotion if you have been out in the sun. 
  • The ground can get very hot in the sun so make sure to wear good fitting footwear. 

If you think that someone you support is overheating, follow these guidelines:

  • Get the person to a cool shady area.
  • Offer them cool drinks – not tea, coffee or alcohol.
  • Encourage the person to have a cool shower or bath. Failing that offer cool wet flannels or a sponge to cool their skin.
  • Ask them to lie down or rest in a cooler place.
  • If you feel that the person is not cooling down and is more confused, dizzy or unwell, call NHS24 or 111 for advice or visit their website or contact their GP during normal working hours.