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Elderly people in hot weather

We’re in the middle of a heatwave and the UK is enjoying some of the hottest weather we’ve ever experienced. From the sunbathing to the barbecues, this beautiful weather offers a lot of positives, but not everyone enjoys it. Whilst the hot weather is putting the majority of the UK in a great mood, the rising temperatures can lead to a long list of health problems, especially for the elderly.

At Sova Healthcare, we’re a leading provider of private home care and domiciliary care services across the the UK. To support family members and carers, we’ve put a list of tips together to help you care for the elderly during a heatwave, so that they can stay safe and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Symptoms of Overheating

In order to keep your loved ones safe and comfortable during a heatwave and the summer season, it is crucial that you’re able to recognise the symptoms of overheating, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Symptoms of overheating include:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Behavioural changes
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling dizzy and weak
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Swollen ankles
  • Thirstiness
  • Dark urine

What is heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

Heat exhaustion is triggered when your core temperature reaches at least least 104°F. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion, as it can lead to shock, organ failure and even brain damage. In extreme cases, heatstroke leads to death.

What causes heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

When your body cannot cool itself and its core temperature is raised, it can lead to heat-related illnesses. In order to stay cool when the climate is hot, your body dissolves sweat. However, during hotter, humid days, the increased moisture in the air slows the sweating process , making it difficult for your body to cool down. This, in turn causes your temperature to rise even further, which leads you to become ill. Dementia patients are more at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke during the hotter months, as they may forget to wear lighter clothing, or stay hydrated - which poses a huge risk.

How to keep your loved ones cool

Staying cool during the summer months requires much more than just drinking iced water. In order to keep your elderly relatives, friends and patients safe, you should:

1. Give them time to refresh

Having regular cool showers, baths and washes is a great way to lower body temperature, and is a great way to keep someone feeling refreshed. People with dementia may forget to wash or shower - you just need to be patient and suggest that they cool down with a quick wash or cold shower. If you’re planning on going out on a day trip or excursion, you should take some damp washcloths in a cool bag with an ice pack. This is a great way of quickly cooling someone. If your relative is suffering from dementia and becomes confused or irritated by you giving them cool washcloths, be patient and explain what you are doing. Find out more about how to communicate with a person with dementia.

2. Take a rest

Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is always encouraged - even more so for patients with dementia and other diseases. However, during the hotter months you should keep strenuous physical activity to a minimum, as it can cause excess sweating, which leads to dehydration, and will hinder the body’s ability to stay cool.

3. Eat cool foods

To ensure your elderly relative, patient or friend is consuming enough water, you should give them foods with high water content - the benefit of this is that it will also help them stay cool.

Salad foods such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce and celery, vegetables such as cauliflower and peppers; and fruits like strawberries, grapefruit and melon are ideal! Depending on what stage of dementia (find out more about the seven stages of dementia) your loved one or patient is at, you should consider whether they can safely swallow these foods.

4. Wear lighter clothing

Cotton clothing and looser tops, dresses and shorts are a simple way to help maintain a safe core temperature. Avoid tight clothing and darker colours, as they tend to absorb heat.

5. Don't go outside during peak hours

The day is hottest between 11am and 3pm. During this time, you should stay somewhere cool, and only go outside during the cooler times of the day– before 11am and after 3pm.

6. Close blinds and curtains

Closing blinds and curtains during the day is a great way to stop the sun shining inside a room and heating it up!

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with dementia, why not reach out to one of our friendly professional team to see what we can do to help and support you every step of the way.

Dementia Communication

Dementia is a disease that is affecting more and more people in the UK. With over 850,000 people suffering from some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and with that figure expected to rise to above 1 million by 2025, developing ways to communicate with those who have the degenerative brain disease is starting to become more vital than ever before.

Why is communicating with a person with Dementia difficult?

Communicating with those with dementia is very difficult as their brain is struggling to communicate within itself, due to the nerve cells that transmit messages being damaged. This is because Dementia is a degenerative brain disorder, and the cell damage in the brain makes it much harder for dementia sufferers to take in new information and formulate a response like a fully functioning brain can.

Memory loss is also prevalent, meaning they may not have a strong recollection of who you are, thus making communication very difficult. Alongside this, due to the nerve cell damage within the brain, you may find that their behaviour has changed - they may behave similarly to a child.

With Dementia affecting the everyday life of the patient and their loved ones, some people need some help in being able to communicate in what can be a difficult situation. Sova Healthcare has compiled a list of ten tips for communicating with a person with dementia.

1. Create a positive atmosphere

Your body language is very important when engaging with someone with dementia. It speaks volumes more than your own words. Use facial expressions, consider the tone of your voice and gentle, reassuring physical touching of the arm will help communicate your message and show your love and affection for them.

2. Keep the person’s attention

Keeping the focus of the person with dementia is vital to good communication, but as the disease progresses this can become increasingly challenging. Keep the TV or radio off, close the curtains, shut the door or move to a place that is free from any distraction. Make sure you have their attention, address them by their name whilst making sure they know who you are, and maintain eye contact with them.

3. Clearly state your messages

Keep your words and sentences as simple as possible. Speak slowly and with a reassuring tone. Keep your voice at a lower pitch and refrain from making it higher or louder, as you don’t want to startle them. If they do not understand your message the first time, use the same wording to repeat your message or question. If they are still struggling, wait for a period of time before saying it again. But remember, try not to lose patience with them, as this is not their fault.

4. Keep your questions simple

Those in the later stages of dementia often get easily confused, so you need to keep your questions as simple as possible. If you need a definitive answer, try not to ask open ended questions - yes or no questions work best. If you do need to ask a question that requires a choice, make the choices clear. Transparent options can help clarify exactly what you are asking.

5. Keep your ears, eyes and heart open

Your loved one may take time to reply so you need to be patient with them. Prompt them if they are struggling to answer a question. Do not show any impatience with your body language - be understanding. Don’t be surprised if they become impatient or frustrated - this is a challenging time for them. Try and be as patient and as understanding as possible.

6. Break everything down into manageable chunks and steps

Keeping tasks manageable for someone with dementia is vital - it isn’t easy for someone with dementia to be able to complete everyday tasks we often take for granted, without support from live-in carers, family members of visiting carers. This is because the brain is struggling to send messages, impacting their memory loss which hampers their recollection of each step. Encourage them, gently remind them of the steps and assist them with anything they cannot complete on their own. Make the steps visual so they picture exactly what you want them to do.

7. Distract and Redirect when Upset

It can be easy for a dementia sufferer to get upset or agitated as they struggle to complete what we often regard as a simplistic and mundane task. Alongside this, there is also the possibility that something happening around them (such as a change in furniture) that has impacted their mood. The best way to help a dementia patient who has become upset is by trying to change the subject, or removing them from environment that is making them upset. A great distraction could be to go for a walk. Be understanding with them, as this will reassure them, and remind them that you have their best interests at heart.

8. Be affectionate and reassuring

A common symptom of dementia is confusion and anxiety - as the dementia progresses, patients often struggle to differentiate between what is and isn’t real. This is where you will need to be affectionate and reassuring. Stay focused on the feelings they are trying to express and don’t convince them that everything they see is incorrect. At times, holding hands, hugging and touching can get some to respond.

9. Reminisce

A great way to communicate with a person with dementia is to take a trip down memory lane. They might not be able to remember something that happened 30 minutes ago, but they might clearly recall something from 30 years ago. Ask general questions about the person’s past instead of anything based on short-term memory.

10. Have a sense of humour

People struggling with dementia will usually retain their social skills and will love a good laugh. Just make sure the joke isn’t at their expense.

At Sova Healthcare, we are passionate about providing the best care and advice to you and your relative. If you have any queries regarding our dementia home care services or specialist care services that we provide, please contact us today.

Everyday life with dementia

Over 850,000 people are suffering from dementia in the UK, and this figure is expected to rise to over 1 million by 2025. It's also predicted that 225,000 will develop dementia this year - one person will be diagnosed every three minutes. Dementia is an umbrella term for a progressive and degenerative brain disease, and has over 200 different subtypes. The five most common types of dementia are:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Mixed dementia

What is dementia?

The human brain is made up of nerve cells (neurones) that send messages as a way of communicating with each other. Dementia damages the brain's nerve cells, which means that messages can't be sent to and from the brain effectively, preventing the body from functioning normally.

Dementia and everyday life

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease impacts Activities of Daily Living (ADL), making it difficult for those with the disease to complete simple activities that we often take for granted, such as bathing, doing laundry or cleaning. It is important to remember that not every person suffering from dementia will look dishevelled and unkempt, and different stages of the disease will alter the way in which the person in question will complete the task.

Why does dementia have an impact on everyday life?

Because dementia is a progressive and degenerative brain disease, it impedes messages that are transmitted in the brain. These messages help people execute day-to-day activities that we often see as mundane and take for granted. Here are the following functions that dementia affects, and the ADL this alters.

Executive Functioning

Dementia affects a person's executive functioning, making it challenging for them to complete simple tasks, and the steps that go into them, such as having a shower or getting dressed. All of these day-to-day tasks have a sequence of steps, which is why it isn't uncommon to see people wearing underwear over their trousers.

Dementia impedes the brain's ability to sequence, plan and organise multiple-step activities. For those who want to continue living at home after their dementia diagnosis, assisted-living carers are a great way to help you maintain your independence in the comfort of your own home. Domiciliary Home Care Services for dementia patients means that day-to-day living activities such as bathing and getting dressed will be much easier, as there is added support.

Memory

Memory loss is one of the most renowned symptoms of dementia, and this disease affects both long-term and short-term memory. Whether it is forgetting where you grew up or how to make a cup of tea, sometimes the person with dementia may forget how to perform ADL tasks such as how to clean your teeth or put clean clothes on. Having a live-in carer support you with day-to-day activities you find you might struggle with can help you keep your independence and stay in the comfort of your own home.

Judgement and attention

Due to the lack of signals being sent around the brain, judgement, attention and decision making are notably affected. This can be something as simple as choosing to turn the heating on during the middle of winter, or deciding that you're going to the shop in the middle of the night. This lack of judgement and attention can also be quite dangerous for the person in question, and others around them - for example, they might leave the oven on or forget to blow a candle out. Domiciliary care and night care can help dementia patients with their judgement, as a live-in carer or visiting carer may help guide them to make safer decisions, whilst allowing them to keep their own independence.

Behavioural and psychological symptoms

Many family members find that the behaviour of their loved ones has changed in the later stages of dementia. In some instances, they find their loved ones resist any help or assistance with day-to-day activities, further complicating things. Specialist care services from professional dementia and Alzheimer’s carers will help to alleviate this.

How can family members help dementia patients with everyday living activities?

  • Stay calm
  • Give one direction at a time
  • Prioritise what is important
  • Give day-to-day tasks extra time to decrease stress
  • Use humour (appropriately)
  • Get to know the caregiver and build a good rapport
  • Take a break if it's not going well and try again later
  • Practice the activity in the same routine every day
Get in touch with Sova Healthcare today.

Stages of Dementia

With 50 million people across the world currently diagnosed with dementia, the illness affects countless numbers of people around the globe. If you or a loved one are one has recently been diagnosed with the early symptoms of dementia, then you may be looking to find out more regarding what you can expect from this progressive illness over the coming years. To help you learn and understand more about the stages of dementia, we've created an in-depth guide based on the Global Deterioration Scale to provide you with a basic understanding of the illness, and ensure that you and your loved ones are provided with all the necessary support and understanding surrounding the diagnosis of dementia.

Stage 1

Stage one relates to a healthy person whose memory and mind are both intact and functioning at a normal level. The majority of people would fall within stage one, and would be considered medically healthy and dementia free if examined by a doctor.

Stage 2

A person who falls within the stage 2 category would be subject to forgetfulness, but only on a very minor scale that is typically associated with ageing. This level of memory loss is often imperceptible and would most likely not be linked to dementia.

Stage 3

Stage three is distinctively more noticeable than the previous stage and typically represents the first diagnosable early signs of dementia. Stage three begins to affect people's daily activities, where individuals may find themselves forgetting things more frequently, experiencing difficulty concentrating, and potentially struggling to express themselves. If a person is medically diagnosed as showing symptoms of stage three dementia, then they typically have seven years before the dementia comes into full effect.

Stage 4

Perhaps the most medically diagnosable early stage of dementia, those who are displaying symptoms of stage four may struggle to perform complex tasks, as well as potentially being unable to cope with travelling or visiting new locations. The short term memory may also begin to decline, with individuals struggling to recall more recent events or memories. If someone is showing signs of falling within category four, then typically physical signs of mental deterioration should be present in medical cognitive assessments.

Stage 5

Stage five sufferers are those who start to experience a major loss of mental ability. Often needing help to complete simple day to day tasks, individuals at stage five may require aid for getting dressed, eating, showering or other similar activities. Within stage five, memory capacity dips significantly and people may struggle to forget more significant parts of their lives such as where they live or what day it is.

Stage 6

Those who fall within stage six of the Global Deterioration Scale are typically described as experiencing the 'middle stages' of dementia. This means that often extensive care and assistance have to be given in order to help the individual accomplish the majority of simple tasks. Physical deterioration also starts to become more prevalent, where those suffering from stage six dementia may begin to lose control of both their bladder and their speech. Memory loss also becomes increasingly extensive, with individuals frequently forgetting their family members, friends, and even who they are themselves. Some may even experience hallucinations or false memories where they are convinced certain things are true that are not.

Stage 7

Medically associated as being the 'final' stage of dementia, stage seven typically occurs within two and a half years of an individual hitting stage six. During this final phase, a person frequently loses all ability to communicate or help themselves due to a build up of abnormal proteins within the brain that slowly degenerate and 'kill off' the cranial cells. Frequently resulting in individuals being unable to walk, talk or eat by themselves, those experiencing stage seven of dementia require nearly full time care in order to help them accomplish basic bodily functions.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with dementia, why not reach out to one of our friendly professional team to see what we can do to help and support you every step of the way.

Finding the right home care agency and care workers for your loved ones can be a difficult task. We have put together a useful list of the right questions to ask when searching for home care services, knowing the right questions to ask can make all the difference to ensure you are making the right decision. 

About the care workers the agency provides: 


  • Do you carry out background checks on your care workers?
  • Do you carry out a DBS?
  • What type of qualifications do your caregivers have and do they receive regular training?
  • Do you require your care workers to have a minimum amount of experience?
  • What type of training do they receive and how often is this updated?
  • Are your caregivers insured through your agency?
  • What is your reference policy for your care workers? Are they required to give at least 2 written references?
  • Will my relative have a regular care worker?
  • What if a care worker is unable to make it due to ill health or bad weather conditions?
  • Will records be kept? I.e for the care that has been given and the time spent?
  • Do you provide copies of these records if requested?

About your relative’s needs

  • Will you be conducting your own assessment before offering a care plan? And what will this assessment consist of?
  • Will the needs be matched to the most suitable carer?
  • Will we be able to request a different care worker if the one provided isn’t suitable?
  • What happens in the event of a medical emergency? How is this usually dealt with?
  • If a care worker requires a key to access my relatives home, how will you ensure this is kept safe and secure?

General questions about the agency:

  • How long has your agency been providing home care services? (ask more specifically about the type of care your relative requires)
  • What are your charges for the services required?
  • Can we get a copy of the standard contract of work with private clients?
  • Do you have a standard contract for work with private clients? Can we see a copy?
  • Are your care workers/agency regulated? And by whom?
  • Is there any additional charges on weekends/bank holidays? Is care provided on these days?
  • What type of insurance do you have? Does this just cover your care workers or my relative as well?
  • Are services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Is management available 24/7?
  • Can I talk to references that have used your services recently?
  • Is it possible to have a trial period.

At Sova Healthcare we are passionate about providing the best service possible to you and your relative, if you have any questions regarding our agency, the care workers or any other general questions please do not hesitate to contact us today.