Seniors living with dementia may have challenges communicating symptoms of hyperthermia. The communication challenge between the client and caregiver may lead to deterioration of the symptoms or emergencies. Here, we look at three things caregivers should know about hyperthermia in seniors with dementia.
What is Hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is a condition that leads to abnormally high body temperature caused by the failure of heat-regulating mechanisms of the body. Someone suffering from hyperthermia generates or absorbs more heat than the body can release. People may experience temperatures exceeding 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The condition, which is also known as heat illness, has several forms:
- Heat cramps: this is a mild form of hyperthermia
- Heat exhaustion: a moderate form of heat illness. Body temperature can rise to as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heatstroke: is the most severe form of hyperthermia and can be life-threatening. The body temperature can rise above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
While anyone can get hyperthermia, seniors and children below age four are at a higher risk. Here are three things that caregivers should know about hyperthermia and seniors with dementia.
1. Dementia May Delay Response to Hyperthermia
Caregivers should know if their loved ones are suffering from some form of dementia, they may experience hyperthermia but not communicate how they feel. The disconnect between the senior and the caregiver may lead to the progression of hyperthermia to life-threatening forms.
2. Symptoms of Hyperthermia
Seniors with dementia may have memory loss and cognitive impairments that impact their life. Caregivers should look for the following symptoms to tell whether their loved ones are suffering from a heat illness.
Someone suffering from heat exhaustion displays the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Breathing difficulties and racing heart
- Muscle aches or cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- General body weakness
The symptoms of heatstroke are similar to those of heat exhaustion. However, the person may also experience:
- Low or high blood pressure
- Problems maintaining body balance: the patient may stagger
- Dry skin or inability to sweat even when exposed to a hot environment
3. How to Manage the Symptoms of Hyperthermia
Slight changes in diet, lifestyle, and living conditions can help manage mild and moderate hyperthermia. To help your loved ones consider the following changes:
- Install air conditioners to regulate room temperature
- Increase the intake of fluids like water and fruit juices
- Reduce/eliminate caffeinated and alcoholic drinks
- Do not exercise the patient during hot days
- Get assistance from Alzheimer's and dementia home care specialist
Heatstroke is a medical emergency, and caregivers should treat it as such.
Contact Senior Helpers Orlando Dementia Care to Learn More
If you live in Orlando, Winter Park, Apopka, or Kissimmee, take advantage of specialized care provided bySenior Helpers Orlando. At Senior Helpers Orlando, we understand dementia is complicated. We offer flexible and customizable homecare services to ensure your loved ones feel safe, comfortable, and independent while still at home.
Schedule an in-home assessment today, or contact our office to speak to a senior care expert for more information.