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It isn’t all Fun in the Sun
Temperatures are set to soar beyond 30 degrees Celsius this week as sun seekers flock to the beaches around the UK in search of that holiday feeling.
Hyperbolic news outlets tell us that parts of England could be hotter than Madrid or Nice; which I always think is slightly odd, as when we return to our chilly, drizzly norm the Spanish and French stay in the sun. And when a rainy day hits the Spanish capital does their newscaster say ‘it’s going to be wetter than Manchester today?’
I suspect probably not.
But away from the happy images of a cooling ice cream on the beach at Southend there is a worrying side to the hot weather, and that is the potential health risk to elderly people. Those most at risk in a heat-wave are mainly the elderly and seriously unwell, just as they are in danger in the depth of winter when the icy weather hits our island.
Old people suffer more in the hot weather as the ability to regulate your body temperature decreases with age. A slowing of cognitive functions makes it less likely an old person can react quickly to temperature change. And for dementia sufferers the problem is compounded by a lack of understanding of how to dress appropriately in hot weather, and the inability to detect thirst and dehydration easily.
People with physical and mental disabilities often face similar problems at times of high temperature, particularly those on medication which makes it harder for a body to cool itself and avoid heatstroke.
So what can we do to help?
Neighbourliness is important throughout the year, regardless of the weather. When icy weather hits, you get round to your senior neighbour’s house or flat and see if they need any shopping doing, or whether they have enough warmth. Equally, when the temperatures are soaring the arduous trip to the shops can be just as perilous and not everyone has access to delivery services. And it always helps to have a bottle of water in the fridge, a fan in the room and a cool damp cloth at hand.
An ice lolly in the freezer doesn’t go amiss and to take one round to an elderly friend in need is the sort of act of kindness which can not only be a physical help but it would almost certainly make someone’s day.
It’s hard enough getting old and, while Housing Associations and service providers do all they can to include everyone, the pace of change in the digital world has left some of our older citizens behind. An inability to access services and help can leave people feeling isolated and that almost always leads to loneliness, another scourge of the elderly. And the pandemic has led to more problems in the health service, with GP services still patchy at best and old (and young) people may still be susceptible to anxiety when it comes to contact.
So, as the hot weather comes keep cool yourselves in the best way you can; but please look out for those who find it more difficult and are not anticipating fun in the sun.
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