7 suggestions for caretakers of individuals with Alzheimer’s in the summerby Roberta Lunghini - 2017.07.13
Taking care of an individual with Alzheimer’s becomes more difficult in the summer. The hot temperatures, the lack of daily routine, and less formality than usual, can all cause more problems for the caregiver and for the person he/she is assisting. When caring for elderly with dementia, fatigue, dizziness, and prostration from the heat need to be taken into consideration. These can add to the already existing fragility of these individuals who can often have more serious issues in the summer months compared to other times of the year. For this reason, experts at the residential care home in the Lombardy Region called "Villaggio Amico" put together these 7 simple suggestions so caretakers can have some practical advice for how to better handle the summer concerns:
1. Give the individual something to drink frequently, even if he/she does not ask;
2. Even if the individual is able to prepare meals independently, be sure to check on the quantity, variety, and conservation of the food;
3. Be careful to pay close attention to the individual’s diet and any sudden weight loss;
4. Pay particular attention to the doses of medicines: ask the doctor if there could be collateral effects due to the excessive temperatures and ask if there might be a need to modify therapies in the summer months;
5. In the summer, individuals with Alzheimer’s tend to get lost more frequently: therefore, a caretaker should notify the police promptly if the person they are assisting is missing, and precise indications on the person’s behavior should be provided;
6. If the elderly individual insists on going out during the so-called “at-risk” hours, try not to agitate him/her too much, and show him/her the time on the watch that would be cooler for going outside. In any event, do not forget the protection of a hat and the importance of providing garments that are light-weight and not made of synthetic fabrics, which tend to interfere with the skin’s breathing properly;
7. The negative effects of the heat increase chronic illnesses. Elderly individuals who suffer from pathologies that damage cardiac mechanisms (stroke or heart attack), or respiratory illnesses, or other disturbances that have to do with the balance of water and minerals, such as compromised kidney functions, are especially at risk. Be keenly aware of the fact that a person with advanced dementia is often unaware of his/her poor health state and might not be able to communicate his/her needs adequately.
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