Rising temperatures throughout Ventura County can have a significant impact on everyone’s safety, but they can be especially stressful and confusing for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Alzheimer’s disease–the third leading cause of death within the county–causes a number of changes in the brain and body that may affect their safety, including changes in sensitivity to temperatures.

“People living with dementia can be vulnerable during this hot weather because their judgment may be impaired and they may be unable to communicate discomfort,” said Sergio Cendejas, Community Engagement Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter. “It’s really important to take extra precautions.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is offering important safety tips for caregivers and families facing Alzheimer’s and other dementias to prepare for the hot summer months ahead.

Make a plan. Family and friends should prepare accordingly and make plans to do regular check-ins with loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Pay attention at night. Difficult and exacerbating sleeping conditions will increase anxiety and agitation, so keep cool by using fans and keeping the air conditioning on if possible.

Prepare for behavioral challenges. Try to remove behavioral triggers by addressing the person’s physical needs related to the heat, then tending to their emotional needs.

Stay hydrated. Increased water intake is essential to maintaining good hydration and health during extreme heat. Know the signs of heat exhaustion to avoid heat stroke. Dehydration may be difficult to notice in a person living with dementia, as signs like increased fatigue, dry mouth and headache may be difficult to detect. People taking diuretics, sedatives, or certain heart medication may not sweat as much as others, but this does not mean that they are not hot.

Stay indoors and out of the sun. If air conditioning is unavailable at home, arrange alternative plans for cooler spaces in public, such as a senior center or shopping mall. Dress appropriately in loose, light clothing, and wear a hat and apply sunscreen when outside.
Stay informed. Keep an eye on local weather forecasts. High temperatures are not the only cause for concern. Humidity and air pollution indices can cause breathing difficulties. The person should be monitored regularly and seek medical attention if symptoms arise of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.

Taking these measures to plan ahead can prevent injuries and help a person with dementia feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s treatments and free support services, visit the Alzheimer’s Association online at alz.org/cacentral. Their Ventura office is located at 2580 E Main Street #201, and their 24/7 Helpline is 800.272.3900 for around-the-clock support and information in English and Spanish.