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Carer gasping at thermometer

Some carers of older Australians are struggling to cope with the summer heatwaves because their clients don't feel the heat in their homes.

An NDIS client has told Leep that his carers have complained about hot homes and even the use of heaters in bathrooms at shower times during heatwaves. It is well known that older people 'feel the cold more', so it probably makes sense that they would not 'feel the heat' so much. 

Their carers however are younger and don't cope well with being active in indoor temperatures that may exceed upwards of 30 degrees. Their duties might include cooking, housecleaning and helping with showering and dressing. 

Further, heat stress can affect older people more than others. According to betterhealth.vic.gov.au :

"Some people aged 65 years and over may be at increased risk of heat-related illnesses and need special care in hot weather. Risk factors include living alone, chronic medical problems and certain medications". 

As people age, their bodies become less efficient at regulating temperature. Seniors don’t sweat as much as younger adults, which unfortunately is one of the body’s most important heat-regulation mechanisms. Also, they store fat differently, which complicates heat-regulation in the body further.

As the temperature rises, so too does internal body temperature, especially in extremely hot environments. All of which explains why older people suffer from heat stroke more often than younger people throughout the summer.

There are a variety of lifestyle and health factors that increase the risk of developing a heat-related illness:

  • dehydration
  • chronic illnesses (heart and kidney diseases; blood circulation conditions)
  • prescription medications that reduce sweating
  • salt-restricted diets
  • overdressing
  • lack of airflow or access to air-conditioning
  • living in particularly hot climates

Symptoms of heat stress include:

  • hot and dry skin
  • brown or dark yellow urine suggests dehydration
  • paleness
  • rapid heart rate
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • disorientation and confusion
  • delirium
  • fainting or coma
  • worsening of pre-existing medical conditions.

Carers should be monitoring for these symptoms in both their clients and themselves.

At least our elderly aircon refusers can't be blamed for adding to climate change and power outages!

 

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