Staying cool in the English summer: How to help the elderly beat the heat
The English summer brings a refreshing change to dreary weather, with sunshine and warmth filling the months mid-year. As beautiful as this season is though, it can also pose challenges for our residents and other aging adults, who may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. At Birchwood House, it is our top priority to ensure that the well-being and comfort of our residents is at the fore, but this is especially paramount during these sizzling summer months. We are here to share some top tips and strategies that keep our residents cool and comfortable, as well as provide valuable insights to help recognise the signs of heat stroke.
The team at Birchwood House proactively deliver regular hydration rounds, alternating between refreshing drinks and melt-in-your-mouth ice lollies to keep staying cool more enjoyable. These also provide opportunities for the team to consistently monitor residents and keep an eye out for anyone experiencing discomfort or symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Another important practice involves staying on top of sun protection. Setting up canopies and creating enticing spaces in shaded areas. Summer hats are also a must, with the team always encouraging residents to keep sun safe when enjoying the outdoors.
Promoting lighter clothing choices is another way we help Birchwood House residents combat the warmer months. We take time to educate everyone on the benefits of breathable fabrics, loose-fitting, lightweight summer-friendly clothing and wearing fewer layers as the heat sets in.
Maintaining a cool environment indoors is paramount too, with air conditioning and fans used frequently. The Birchwood House team also monitor temperatures and inspect cooling systems to ensure comfort is always protected.
There are some key signs and symptoms of heatstroke in older people that can be easy to spot and important to recognise. Our team are trained to notice them and regularly take a refresher to keep them front of mind in the summer. According to the NHS, signs and symptoms can include:
- High body temperature and flushed skin: we pay attention to a resident’s body temperature and notice any significant rises, especially if accompanied by hot and red skin.
- Rapid breathing and increased heart rate: we observe any changes in breathing patterns or an elevated heart rate, as these may indicate heatstroke.
- Nausea, dizziness, and confusion: we watch out for signs of nausea, dizziness, disorientation, or confusion, which may indicate heat-related distress.
- Headache, fatigue, and muscle cramps: heatstroke can cause severe headaches, extreme fatigue, and muscle cramps, which should not be ignored or treated as isolated incidents.
- Fainting or loss of consciousness: this means that immediate medical attention is crucial. Thankfully this can usually be avoided but the Birchwood House team are trained to give assistance and contact the appropriate service providers.
Take a look at the infographics below for more information – the first is sourced from the NHS and the right from Quality Compliance Systems They both illustrate some important information for beating the heat and monitoring susceptible groups.
If you or someone else has symptoms of heat exhaustion which you are struggling to treat or you need advice about, you can call 111 or get help from 111 online. In an extreme event requiring emergency services, it is recommended to call 999.
At Birchwood House, we know how important it is to keep our residents, cool, calm, and comfortable. We take this commitment especially seriously during the warmer months, ensuring every team member is trained and ready to deliver proactive care to every resident.