What caregivers need to know about heat and dementia

Health experts are reminding caretakers of Alzheimer's patients of steps that need to be taken when excessive heat in the Valley.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 8:18 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Valley of the Sun is no stranger to dangerously high temperatures, excessive heat warnings, and a constant struggle to stay hydrated in the middle of summer. Still, health experts remind caregivers and family members about specific steps to take with our most vulnerable populations.

“The dangers of extreme temperatures, which can cause heat stroke in a matter of minutes, are magnified for someone living with dementia.” said Jennifer Reeder, director of educational and social services for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Reeder says dementia-related illnesses often make it hard for some people to communicate that they are thirsty, overheated, or need food. Caregivers are asked to check up frequently to ensure they’re staying hydrated. Those with dementia should avoid alcohol or caffeine, as it can make them dehydrated.

There is also a critical warning against hyperthermia. Health experts say seniors and chronically ill people are at most risk of being unable to regulate their body heat. As temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, especially in the summer, doctors say caretakers should watch for heat stroke symptoms. Signs include hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, changes in mental state, and/or dizziness.

So what should caretakers do when they notice something is off or need medical attention? Caretakers should immediately take their person to an air-conditioned room, apply cold compresses and give them plenty of fluids. If they faint, become unconscious, or are excessively confused, you are asked to call 911.

For more information on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, click or tap here.