Dementia and Hot Weather - Summer Sun

Summer means warmer weather, longer days, outdoor strolls in the gardens and lemonade on the porch. The warmer temperatures can also cause discomfort and a risk of dehydration which is a common challenge for older people, especially those living with dementia.

If you have a loved one living with dementia, we hope you find this informational helpful in supporting them when the temperatures soar and it’s hot weather.

Dementia and Dehydration

The elderly can be extremely vulnerable in extreme weather conditions as their brain function slows down, and their body finds it more difficult to regulate their body temperature.

Dehydration is a common challenge for older individuals, especially those with dementia. Memory problems mean someone with dementia can easily forget to drink enough water.

Dementia and Hot Weather - Drink Water

Tips for Preventing Dehydration

Leave a glass or container of water within easy reach.

This is especially important for people with limited mobility, who aren’t able to get up and make themselves a drink. It’s important to have a clear glass so the person can see what’s inside and make sure the glass is within the line of sight. Straws might also be a good idea.

Share a drink together.

Enjoy a cup of caffeine-free tea, a glass of Crystal Light lemonade or ice water

Provide high water content foods.

Supplement water and other drinks with foods that are high in fluids. Some good options include: jelly, ice cream, soup and fruit such as melon.

Beverages to avoid.

Drinks with caffeine or sugar need to be avoided as they are diuretics.

Leave reminders.

It can be helpful to leave notes out for them or place notices around the house.

How Hot Weather Can Affect a Person With Dementia

There are effects of hot weather on people with dementia that they may not understand. One is a homeostatic imbalance which can cause the person to have a cardiac arrest. Deaths of the elderly during heat waves have been caused by heart failure.

Dehydration can occur in dementia patients because they may not be able to recognize when they’re thirsty. They don’t remember they need to drink more fluids to prevent dehydration. If dehydration does occur, it can leave toxins in the bloodstream. This causes the kidneys and liver to work overtime. When these organs work overtime, it can cause the urinary tract to become exposed to infections.

Heatstroke can happen if the older adult has problems with their circulation and takes medications. This combination can cause the person to not be able to sweat so the body can cool itself off. If the body can’t cool itself, heatstroke can occur.

Dementia and Hot Weather - Avoid the sun

Tips to Help People with Dementia Stay Cool in Warm Weather

Make sure the person is dressed properly.

Have the wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibers as well as a hat or cap for outside.

Keep the house as cool as possible.

Keep curtains and blinds closed during the day and check that the central heating isn’t on. Invest in fans if necessary, and during the evening, open the windows to let the warm air out and cooler air in.

Avoid the midday sun.

Find ways to cool off.

Proper ventilation is extremely important to keep the person cool and air conditioners need to be checked to make sure they’re functioning properly. When the individual is hot and agitated, help them take a cool bath or shower. Place a wash cloth and some ice water nearby and consider placing a frozen bottle of water or ice pack next to a fan. Using a wet cloth on the back of the neck will help to regulate body temperatures.

How to Recognize Dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • increased confusion – compared to typical dementia symptoms
  • nausea
  • headaches or dizziness
  • disorientation
  • dark and strong-smelling urine
  • dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • feeling tired
  • not urinating very often (fewer than four times a day)

In our blogpost, The Road Less Traveled Living With Dementia, we discuss finding hope in new beginnings while living with dementia. Also, what are the benefits of walking for dementia?

Sources: | Alzheimer’s Association

If you, a family member or friends are in need of support for healthy aging, contact us, we are here to guide you in navigating your roadmap to aging well.

Cindy Koch

Cindy Koch, MA

Certified Placement & Referral Specialist (CPRS) | Owner

Aging at 5280 is here to help elders and their families navigate through the healthcare system and customize a plan to meet their needs.