Heatwave 75 Extra Deaths For Every Degree Increase

Date Added 31.08.16

Those in Care Homes at highest risk!

The correlation between increasing temperatures and mortality was studied in the summer of 2006, and according to government statistics for every 1 degree that the temperature increased, there were an estimated 75 extra fatalities per week.

During a heatwave, when temperatures remain abnormally high for longer than a day or two, it can be fatal for those such as the bedridden or others in a vulnerable situation. In South East England in August 2003, during a 10-day heatwave, there were nearly 2,000 extra deaths. The biggest increase in the risk of death was among those in Care Homes.

With temperatures in the UK seeming to increasing year on year, we need to be extra vigilant in providing care for those who may have difficulty in providing it for themselves. When the temperatures climb, those that are bedridden are especially susceptible to the effects of dehydration, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The total amount of water in the body decreases with age, from 60% to 52% in men and from 52% to 46% in women, increasing the risk of dehydration which can also be exacerbated by various medications the person may be on.

Tips for caring for the bedridden during a heatwave

1.       Temperature

Perhaps the most important thing you can do for a person confined to their bed due to age or illness, is keep them as cool as possible. Use fans or air conditioning units, directed away from the bed. Keep windows shaded and ensure good ventilation. A cool sponge bath will also ensure the person is cool and fresh, alternatively, small moistened towels across the forehead or back of the neck are also a great way of cooling down.

2.       Hydration

Make sure that there is plenty of fresh water or juice available, and that this is within easy reach. If your loved one needs assistance, drinking aids such as straws and Sippy cups can help to meet their requirements. Encourage them to drink often as someone who is elderly or suffering from illness does not always recognise that they are thirsty. It is also important to refresh the water often as bacteria and germs form and spread very quickly in warm, humid conditions. Also encourage meals and snacks to include high water containing foods, such as salads and fresh fruits and vegetables as these will also help with keeping hydrated.

3.       Clothing and Bedding

Remove any unnecessary bedding, leaving only a light, cotton cover or sheet. If bed protection is needed, make sure it is lightweight and moisture proof. Also ensure that clothing is lightweight, cotton or linen, and is loose fitting and comfortable.

4.       Preventing Bed Sores

On a final note, though not limited to heatwave conditions, bed sores can be exacerbated by a humid, overly warm environment. Special care should always be taken to prevent bed sores with anyone confined to bed and with limited movement, especially so in a heatwave. You will need to help them change position every couple of hours, keep the skin clean and dry, and use pillows to avoid pressure. If the person is able, performing a range of motion exercises will also help avoid bed sores from developing.

As you can see from this article, once educated, there are a number of ways you can help bed ridden friends and family to be more comfortable and avoid heat related injury or discomfort.

We found the government statistics most alarming, please don’t let your loved one become a statistic. If you have concerns about how a loved one is cared for in hospital or in a Care Home, then Tollers’ Lawyer, Veronica Male specialises in Care Home Neglect and Abuse compensation claims. Helping families who are worried that their loved one may have suffered because of this. Often families are very distressed when they contact her as they are not sure how to get the help they need.

Examples of Veronica’s cases include;- poor quality of care in a Care Home causing pressure or bed sores, dehydration or malnutrition, over or under medication.

Veronica is happy to give advice and support to families who find themselves in this very difficult position.

Talk to Tollers. Call 0333 414 9123.

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