With the UK currently experiencing a mini heatwave, it’s important to look out for people with dementia. Due to communication difficulties a person with dementia may not be able to explain that they’re dehydrated or feeling unwell because of the heat. They could forget to wear loose, cool clothing as well as hats and sunglasses.
In heatwaves like this, try and arrange for friends, neighbours or relatives to provide extra checks on a person with dementia. They should be aware of the possible signs to look out for including: headaches, dizziness, increased confusion, pale and sweaty skin as well as excessive thirst. Always seek medical advice if you have concerns.
Dehydration can be a big issue for a person with dementia as they may not remember to drink fluids throughout the day. Ensure that any cups or glasses are nearest to the hand they write with and they can easily see them. Try not to include pieces of fruit within the water as this can sometimes be confusing and off-putting for a person with dementia. If the person prefers to drink fruit squashes add this to the water as this can make it more appealing for the person and easier for them to see. Regularly prompting the person to drink can also prevent dehydration.
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.
There can also be cases where someone with dementia refuses to change their clothes during long periods of heat. This can result in personal hygiene issues and even infections. Sometimes people with dementia like to have a routine such as wanting to wear the same clothes all the time. To maintain good standards of hygiene, you can buy multiple sets of the same clothing and the dirty clothing can then be removed when the person goes to bed at night. The next morning, you can lay out a clean set of clothing ready for them to wear.
There is information and guidance to help you stay safe during spells of hot weather which can be found on the following websites:
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