Sometimes we are kinder to our pets, and more aware of the dangers of heat stroke, than we are with respect to our elderly and our children.
The heat presents significant challenges for the young and the old, and particularly for people living with dementia.
In part because failing short-term memory, people living with dementia are at an increased risk, because in their own minds they ARE drinking lots of water, when the fact is, they are not., and there are a range of additional challenges including:
- they may not be aware of how much water they need
- they may be unaware of the forecast, take a regular walk and be caught out by the heat;
- they may not understand that they will be more comfortable in lighter clothes
- they may not know how to seek help if there are problems with their air-conditioning or fans
On a personal note, we know this form my own mother, who at 92 and living with Alzheimer’s dementia will look me in the eye and tell me she has just had a glass of water when I know for a fact that she hasn’t.
The other question for us as non-medial folks, is, would we know the difference between “heat exhaustion” and “heat stroke”?
It think the answer is probably no.
Queensland Health has released some excellent pointers particularly in relation to the elderly and to children, and I highly recommend you take a minute to read it.
It’s relevant for all of us as we head into Christmas, the beach, and potentially for the elderly, an extended period of being alone.
If you know of someone living with dementia, or an elderly person near you who may not have people visiting regularly, especially over this Christmas period, please take a moment to check in, and take your kindness with you.
Who do you know that’s just not managing the day to day because of memory problems?
Whether it’s because of dementia, an acquired brain injury or a mental illness – the result is stress and worry for individuals and for families and carers.
We can help!