Keeping Bed Bound Alzheimer's Patients Comfortable in the Summer Heat
We tend to associate Alzheimer's with age and with this an emphasis on keeping the person safe and warm. In the heat of summer it's easy to forget that some simple measures can help bed ridden patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia stay comfortable. I am sure you know several, but sometimes a few extra tips are always useful:
- Make sure you use cotton sheets beneath the patient to absorb sweat. Because people with incontinence need mattress protectors, it will be more difficult to reduce sweating. Using natural fibers will help.
- Lighten the duvet tog or use cotton sheets and layers of cotton or wool blankets dependant on room and body temperature.
- Change sheets more often to reduce smells and keep the bed fresh.
- Use room fresheners. There are products available that are specially formulated to help with very strong odors.
- Carry out personal hygiene routines more frequently.
- Use body deodorants.
- You may need to change adult diapers more frequently to keep the person feeling comfortable. Dampness from urine will feel worse on the skin when combined with sweat. Wash the area carefully paying close attention to skin creases. People may be more prone to sweat and urine rashes in the summer months.
- Keep their rooms well ventilated or use air conditioning at a suitable temperature. Monitor temperature settings so the patient does not get too hot or cold as outside weather and time of day changes.
- Keep the person well hydrated. Give him/her frequent drinks. Dehydration can develop quickly, especially when people with moderate/severe stage Alzheimer's are confused and unable to recognize the usual signals of hunger or thirst.
- Sleep may be more difficult when it's hot. Give them a drink. Feel parts of their body to see if they are too hot or too cold. If by taking the appropriate action they remain too hot, take their temperature to see if they have an infection.
- Heat and discomfort can cause increased behavior problems. The incidence of agitation, restlessness, confusion and sometimes violence can all increase when it is hot and uncomfortable. Make sure you have tried all the other tips to see if they help. Call the doctor if they do not work and if this type of behavior is unusual.
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