Things tend to heat up in the summer—literally. Accordingly, caregivers and private nurses must do their due diligence to protect patients from extreme temperatures. Whether you’re caring for a senior or a disabled individual, it’s essential that you recognize the signs of being overheated—and that you take the proper steps to ensure the health and safety of the person in your care.
Not all people regulate their response to heat at the same level. Our capacity for processing sensory information tends to vary based on age, cognitive ability, and other factors.
To this end, caregivers, private nurses, and other home care professionals must keep the client safe during the warm summer months. And since not all patients are equipped to articulate their distress, team members should pay close attention to the person in their care—specifically, to the way they are responding to the heat.
That said, prevention is the first step in providing the proper care. Here are four strategies home care professionals can leverage to protect the patient from extreme summer weather:
- Keep the patient hydrated throughout the day.
It’s important for caregivers to make sure their clients stay hydrated throughout the year, but this becomes even more critical in the summer. Rather than leaving the patient to their own devices, be sure to serve them plenty of water and other fluids. Sugar-free popsicles and fruit like watermelon, which boasts a high water content, are also sound options.
Note that it is best to steer clear of caffeinated beverages and alcohol—which have dehydrating effects—as well as soda, which is packed with sodium.
- Help the client to regulate their body temperature.
Mind you, this is easier said than done. However, simple tasks like turning on the air conditioning, limiting the patient’s physical activity in high heat, and making sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather can work wonders.
If the patient puts on long pants and a sweater in the morning, gently inform them they will be much more comfortable in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, or perhaps a skirt or dress.
- Prioritize sunscreen & hats.
Carry sunscreen if you venture outdoors, and make sure the patient applies it before stepping outside. This will not only help to protect the skin, but also prevent overheating and discomfort. Discuss the importance of sun protection with the patient, and bring along a sun hat or baseball cap if needed. These seemingly small measures go a long way.
- Recognize the signs of being overheated.
In the summer, unusually high body temperatures may lead to a condition called hyperthermia. Home care professionals should grow familiar with the warning signs of hyperthermia, which in its most advanced form is referred to as heat stroke. These warning signs are as follows:
- Dry skin
- Heavy breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Behavioral changes such as confusion and agitation
- Body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
Home care staff should monitor the patient throughout the day and seek medical care if the person exhibits the above signs and symptoms. But in most cases, by focusing on prevention, the client can enjoy the summer heat in a safe manner.
Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and resources from Nurse2Help. The Nurse2Help app lists hundreds of prescreened caregivers in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Please contact usfor more information.