10 Ways to Help Older and Vulnerable People Stay Well in Hot Weather

Hot weather can put older and vulnerable people at risk, so here are a few things you can do to help someone stay well this summer.


Hot weather can put older and vulnerable people at risk, so here are a few things you can do to help someone stay well this summer.

While we all enjoy a moan about the grey skies and wish for warmer temperatures here in the UK, we sometimes forget that hot weather can be dangerous for some. Children, older people and vulnerable people living with health conditions or mobility problems can be at higher risk of serious health problems in a particularly warm summer.

As care providers, we know helping vulnerable people to stay cool and well-hydrated in hot weather is essential, so here are 10 ways you can make life easier for anyone who may struggle in the heat.

  1. Be prepared – whatever you might say about the accuracy of some of our weather forecasts, the Met Office usually give us fair warning of a heatwave, so you can make some preparations. Simple things like making sure there’s enough food and drink in the house and that important prescriptions are renewed/collected in good time will lessen the chances of anyone having to go out in the heat.
  2. Dig out the summer clothes – wearing thin, loose clothing (preferably a natural fibre like cotton that will help keep you cool) is a good idea, so make sure those kinds of clothes are available to for the person to wear, rather than heading straight for their usual clothes out of habit.
  3. Encourage fluid intake – you don’t realise how much fluid you can lose through sweating, so it’s really important to make sure the person is drinking enough. Alcohol or highly caffeinated drinks can be dehydrating, so are best avoided, but water, fruit juices and most other drinks are fine. Eating fruit is also a great way of boosting fluids levels. If someone has mobility problems, make sure that they have easy access to fluids at all times.
  4. Eat little and often – eating small, light snacks rather than large meals can help someone stay well-nourished. Salads, fruit and smoothies are foods that might appeal more to someone than a steaming bowl of soup. And don’t forget a nice ice cream, of course.
  5. Heat-proof the home – some properties are more prone to overheating than others, like top floor flats or unshaded homes with poor ventilation. But there are some steps you can take to make the home cooler, like closing blinds and curtains during the hottest time of the day, opening windows to create a through breeze or using a fan. It might sound daft but checking that the central heating isn’t set to come on automatically is a good move too!
  6. Store food properly – food can spoil more quickly than usual in hotter weather, so make sure foods are put in a cool dark place or the fridge where appropriate. No one wants food-poisoning.
  7. Get wet – a cool shower, dipping hands and feet into a bowl of cold water or wiping the skin down with a wet flannel can all help someone to keep their body temperature down.
  8. Be safe outside – if someone does have to go outside during a heatwave, try and avoid the hottest part of the day if you can (between about 11am and 3pm), stay in the shade as much as possible and encourage them to wear sunscreen and a hat for protection from those UV rays.
  9. Be aware of the symptoms of dehydration – dehydration can happen quickly in high temperatures and can have serious consequences, so it pays to know the symptoms. Strong-smelling, deep yellow urine, a dry mouth, dizziness, headache and extreme thirst are indicators that someone needs more fluids immediately. If they become confused, faint or shaky it’s a medical emergency and you should get help right away.
  10. Know the signs of heatstroke – like dehydration, heatstroke (or heat exhaustion) can be life-threatening. Prevention is obviously better than cure but if someone shows the signs of heatstroke you need to help them cool down immediately. Symptoms are similar to that of dehydration and can also include confusion, nausea, high temperature and excessive sweating. If cooling the person down fails within a short time or their symptoms become worse, it’s time to get emergency help.

So, the next time the forecast promises a heatwave, don’t just get your flips flops ready. Why not pop next door to an elderly neighbour and check to see if there’s anything you could do to help them stay safe this summer?

If you’d like to know more about how Bluebird Care Clapham and Streatham’s home care services could help someone you love live well at home, get in touch with our team!