How hot weather can affect the elderly

The elderly are the most vulnerable to any hot weather as their ability to regulate their own body temperature decreases with age. The brain function also slows in old age, making it harder for an elderly person to respond to a temperature change.

It becomes more of a problem for an older person with dementia as they often cannot understand how to dress appropriately for the weather.

Dehydration can affect most people in hot weather but in particular the elderly and especially those with dementia who are sometimes unable to detect thirst easily. Dehydration can lead to complications due to toxins in the bloodstream and can affect the liver and kidney. Older people can also experience dry, itchy skin if dehydrated.

Ensure that any elderly person you’re caring for drinks plenty of water and they should avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine.

If an elderly person is on medication for circulatory problems, being over hot can lead to the inability to produce sweat, meaning the body cannot cool itself and this can eventually lead to heatstroke.

Any medication they are taking for other issues can also change how they are affected by hot weather.

Some elderly people who live alone, are simply too frail or have reduced mobility will find taking care in hot weather difficult, so it’s important to check up on any loved-ones, friends or neighbours regularly.

If you and an elderly person are out enjoying the sunshine, be sure they are wearing sun cream and a hat and sit/stay in the coolest place with shade if possible to avoid any problems.

It’s a good idea to have a fan in any rooms or a hand-held fan within easy reach. You could even keep a damp flannel or cloth to hand to help cool the face and neck.

You can read more of our top tips for keeping cool in hot weather here.