Heat and light can be key factors that affect the health of someone suffering dementia. As we are dealing with elders, they are more prone to develop sight loss and become more sensitive to temperatures. Here are some considerations to take into account when exposing people with dementia to heat and light.
Elders might not feel the heat
When aging, the body no longer transpires nor regulates the body temperature, meaning that they don’t notice if they are overheating, and sometimes they overdress. It becomes more problematic when it comes to someone with dementia and non-verbal because, even if they do feel the heat, it will be very complicated for them to communicate it. It is important to pay attention to this and make sure they dress with fresh clothing and wear natural fibers.
They can dehydrate easily
Temperatures can rise suddenly and unnoticed, and exposure to exteriors raises the chances of being affected by those changes. People with dementia can easily dehydrate or suffer heat stress, which worsens dementia symptoms and could lead to a deadly stroke. It is better to avoid going outside during the hottest hours of the day or having long walks under the sun.
Some medications might interfere
Consider that some medications like antipsychotics that are often given to dementia patients can cause the body lose control over heat regulation. In these cases, it is good to encourage people to drink more water and avoid strong fluids like tea or coffee.
Light compensates poor eyesight
As we age, we begin to lose our sight, so it is important that everything around is adequately illuminated to compensate for the eyesight loss. Specially, people with dementia need it to find things around them easier.
Natural light is a better option
Our eyes are designed to use natural light, which explains why this is the best option for people with dementia and sight loss. Natural light reaches more areas than artificial light and exposes color and contrast that make objects more distinguishable. It is important to take as much advantage of natural light as possible in every part of the home.
Artificial lighting has to be intense and uniform
Natural lighting is ideal but, sadly, it doesn’t last the 24 hours. So the goal with artificial lighting is to imitate natural one as much as possible. The intensity of the light can vary depending on the person’s preferences but interiors have to be able to reflect it and let it reach every corner. However, it does have to be uniform in every room of the house since people with sight loss have harder times adapting to changes in illumination.
If you want to find out more about how heating and lighting affects people with dementia, and also learn to implement improvements in their care, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful hints on heating and lighting for people with dementia and their carers.”