A woman standing outside in the sunshine

How to support somebody living with dementia in hot weather

Dehydration is a common challenge for older people, especially those living with dementia. Take note of these ways to support people with dementia during periods of hot weather.

For many people, a heatwave is a chance to enjoy the hot weather in gardens, parks and outdoor spaces. But the heat can also cause discomfort and a risk of dehydration.

If you have a loved one living with dementia, take note of these ways to support them when the temperatures soar. 

Dementia and dehydration in hot weather

Dehydration is a common challenge for older people, and especially those with dementia. Memory problems mean someone with dementia can easily forget to drink enough water.

What’s more, the part of the brain that recognises you’re dehydrated and sends a message to let you know you’re thirsty doesn’t always work properly. Some medications and dementia-related illnesses can also make dehydration worse.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

5 tips for preventing dehydration

Here are some simple but effective ways of helping to prevent dehydration during hot weather:

  1. Leave glasses or jugs of water within easy reach. This is especially important for people with limited mobility, who aren’t able to get up and make themselves a drink.
  2. Make drinking easier. Have a clear glass so the person can see what’s inside (this may not work so well with water) or a brightly coloured cup to draw attention. Make sure the glass is within the line of sight. Having a glass that is suitable (not too heavy or an odd shape) can help. Straws might also be a good idea.
  3. Share a drink together. Have a cup of tea or an ice lolly with the person and make sure they're drinking during mealtimes.
  4. Leave reminders. Make sure someone with dementia remembers to drink regularly by leaving notes out for them or putting up notices around the house. You could also set up a phone reminder or set an alarm clock.
  5. Provide high water content foods. Supplement water and other drinks with foods that are high in fluids. Some good options include jelly, ice cream, soup and fruit such as melon.

How to recognise dehydration

There are some things that may show a person is dehydrated. If you spot any of the following, encourage the person to drink water immediately and seek medical help if you need. If the condition worsens or doesn’t improve, go straight to the hospital.

  • Increased confusion (compared to typical dementia symptoms)
  • Dark and strong-smelling urine
  • Dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Not peeing very often (fewer than 4 times a day)

5 more tips to help people with dementia keep cool in hot weather

1. Make sure the person is dressed appropriately

If someone with dementia is dressing themselves, they might follow their usual routine and forget to dress for the weather. Light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres can help keep people comfortable and prevent overheating. A hat or cap for outside is also a good idea.

2. Keep the house as cool as possible

Check that the central heating isn’t on, and invest in some fans if necessary. Keeping the curtains or blinds closed during the day – especially in sunny, south-facing rooms – can also help to keep things cool. In the evening, open the windows to let the warm air out and colder air in.

3. Avoid the midday sun

We’re all advised to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm), and this is even more important for people with dementia. When you’re out and about, seek out plenty of shade. Keep a bottle of sunscreen on you, and make sure it’s reapplied regularly.

4. Find ways to cool off

If someone with dementia is hot and agitated, help them take a cool bath or shower. You could also place a wash cloth and some iced water nearby, so they can dab themselves when they need to. Try putting a frozen bottle of water or ice pack next to a fan, for some DIY air-conditioning.

5. Ask friends and neighbours to pop in and check the person is ok

If you don’t live near the person or are worried about someone – ask a friend or neighbour to pop in and make sure they're ok. If safe under current coronavirus guidance, they could stay and have a drink with the person and make sure they have everything they need.

 

This article was first published in June 2018. It was most recently updated on 15 July 2021.

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33 comments

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My parents used to live miles away from me. my Mother was the main carer who looked after my dad who has alzhheimers/dementia. When mum became ill they both moved in with me. Mum died 3 months later with lung cancer which the nurse missed. dad is now with me, Im having tobe a quick learner but it is so hard at times mentally exhausting and frustrating. Lockdown didnt make it any easier. It feels like i am now the parent of my dad. This disease takes eveything away not just for my dad but as a carer as well. Dad cant be left on his own so I am with him 24/7. My partner does help but he finds it hard for himself but he has work that takes him out of the situation. I work from home but its very difficult to look after dad and carry on looking after the house and my job together with my dad. My head at times feels like it just wants to explode. Every day the same old questions day in day out. I love my dad but i now look at him and think your in there somewhere. I will keep him with me for as long as i can. I hear so many bad things about homes, so i just carry on.

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Hello Kym, thanks for getting in touch.

We're really sorry to hear about the loss of your mum. It sounds like you're dealing with so much right now. It must be very challenging.

We would strongly recommend calling our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. You'll be able to speak with one of our dementia advisers who will listen to your situation and offer specific advice, information, and support. You can also ask any questions you might have about care homes.

You can find more details about the support line (including opening hours) here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

There's also our online community, Talking Point, where you can talk with other people affected by dementia who may be going through a similar situation to you: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…

In the meantime, you might also like to read through our information on when's the right time for a care home. It's a factsheet that explains what might need to happen in these situations. It also talks about some of the feelings you might have when the person with dementia moves into a care home, such as relief, loss or guilt: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-12/476LP%20Care%…

We also have a booklet called Selecting and moving into a care home, which you can download as a digital file or order in print to come through post: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/publications-and-factsheets/s…

We hope this helps for now, Kym. Please do call our support line for advice when you need it.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

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dementia and alzheimers are very difficult for the carer my late husband had the condition . the one thing i learnt you can not do it alone you need a support network and looking after yourself is so essential have a support group you can share your problems with often you help each other dont underestimate the gift of sharing and having help you must have time to yourself to recharge your batteries having friends to let of steam and use the help line to talk

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I agree. Always been so independent and now feel unashamed in asking for support. thank you

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You are definitely right. My mum has dementia and lives with me. We have no other family and it is extremely hard taking on the whole burden. We have good neighbours but I can’t bring myself to ask them for help because I’m frightened they would think I was a nuisance. I am going to possibly utilise a sitting service but mum doesn’t know she has Dementia and wouldn’t take lightly to having a stranger in the house. It’s very difficult. It has been a bit better now we can go out more often. During the lockdown it was horrible. Mum deteriorated rapidly as she’d been used to popping into town on her own every day. She’s unable to do this now. I have to be with her. I love her to pieces but you do still need a break.

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hi jennifer you are the pin king in your mothers care so it is important to keep well if you fall ill what would happen to your mum . many years ago i had similar situation with my late husband . i approached my g p and shared everthing and he spoke to my husband explaining that i needed a small break so he could continue in his own home often it comes better from the doctor i wish you well and the more we share our problems we can help each other . we all need back up .

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My Father has vascular dementia. I absolutely hate it. It’s a disgusting, cruel waste of human life. Truly, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. It breaks heats and minds and is never ending in its wake to increase misery with every waking hour, it seems. However, we must never, ever, ever lose hope because sometimes that’s all we have left. Don’t let dementia take that away from you as well. There may be a cure one day…we cannot say there won’t be. For us now, living with it, we must help each other to get through each day, shoulder to shoulder. We are a community of sufferers who go on each day, silently grieving and stumbling along. Yes, I hate dementia but I love my Dad.

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Ah Yvonne, I feel your pain and, yes, it is a dreadful disease which robs us as well as our loved ones of life. It is impossible to describe to those who do not know a sufferer the frustration, sadness , irritation and exasperation that we feel. Take care and find every way you can to relieve your own stress .

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My husband has vascular demntia, he is now 90yrs, was diagnosed 12 yes ago. He went into a rest home in march, very sad and upsetting. I am able to visit him. Yes Yvonne I agree with u. Bless u my thoughts r with u. X

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Very true. My mum has mixed Dementia and lives with me. Some days I don’t recognise the person she once was. I feel like I’m in a living nightmare. Don’t even have an other family to share the burden.

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you are so right we must become a support network for each other keep sharing your story i keep doing this even though for me its in the past take care of yourself yvonne

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I'm so sorry for what you are going through. My mom has the same. She changed very slightly for the past 10 years until i couldn't take care of her due to her aggression and just not being able to find proper help or family support. She's in a memory care unit and finally doing well. It took me awhile and a visit to the hospital for exhaustion after she was safe.

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I would to say yes it is a slow process but the government can make it better for people that have it ie make depts understand it better and be against the people that have it and make better for there familys that have put up with it it's bad enough when someone you love have it and you see them go down bit bay bit and have to pay for there rest of there life what life they may left.

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A quiet pedestal fan can make a big difference in hot weather.

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A heatwave can lead to a vicious cycle. People with dementia may forget to drink enough fluids and wear suitable clothing. Dehydration and high body temperatures can lead to greater confusion.

As temperatures rise, we are urging relatives, carers and others to check in on people with dementia to make sure they are OK. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, eat regularly to replace salts, dress in cool, light clothes and stay out of the heat.

Lots of love from Ashridge Home Care

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I'm sure this has been considered but the "Jelly Drops" look rather large. I worry about the risk of it getting stuck in the throat, unless it just dissolves when it enters the mouth.

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I just saw on Facebook that there is a new jelly pop that is being tested in England that would help in dehydration. They are colorful, room temperature and sound very useful.

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My mother has dementia and I have found that giving her C b d caps every day has helped her no end I have also changed her diet slightly so she has plenty of fruit and veg, no cheese or white bread and included walnuts into her diet as well as organic extra virgin olive oil.
Hope this may be of some help to someone else.

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Is there a particular reason for avoiding both bread and cheese other that calorie management?

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My husband has Parkinson's and dementia. He is getting steady worse over the last 6month, some days it's a battle of wills , and he can say some hurtful thìngs .he crys and ask where mam is, my mother died 5years ago ..he keeps going on about when are we moving , and has many hallucinations.,of which he talks away to them. And gets nasty because I cannot understand him most of the time.he also sleeps a lot.. l have too cut up his food and sometimes feed him..but he is still my husband , and he can have a few realistic moment's. Especially when he sees family..where this is going I have no idea , just live day to day ...

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My father got it, and I want to help him and the people who suffers it. Is so hard for me. I just have my self to support you in your activities or task. Some times I feel lonely in this situation .
Thank you for read me

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Hi Adriana

We are sorry to hear about your father and can see how difficult it is for you caring for him on your own.

There may be local Alzheimer’s Society services nearby that can offer face-to-face help, advice and support. It may provide a chance to meet other families caring for someone. Details can be found at:
https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/alzheimers-society-re…

Alternatively, our online community may be able to provide you with some support - find out more about Talking Point and share experiences with other people also affected by dementia: https://alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/talking-point-our-online-communit…

We would suggest that you call our helpline so we can offer you some further ideas on help and support that you may be entitled to. The National Dementia Helpline is open Monday to Wednesday from 9am to 8pm, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 5pm; Saturday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Please call 0300 222 1122.

We hope this is helpful, Adriana.

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this is really helpful advise the support line espially when you can speak to a human voice and support group in your area hopfully these groups will open up more

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trouble drinking they pee more all over how do i get rid of smell of pee,also wont shower.

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Hello there and thank you for getting in touch.

You may find these tips on reducing and dealing with accidents useful: alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/toilet-accidents-support-advice

In addition, we have further advice on washing and bathing that may be of use if someone you are caring for is reluctant to wash: alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/when-someone-dementia-reluctant-wash

If you’re looking for further support for someone living with dementia, please do contact your local authority for both a needs assessment and a carer’s assessment to ensure you’re getting all the help you’re entitled to.

Lastly, please call our Helpline if you would like further information, support or advice about dementia – our advisers are here for you on 0300 222 11 22.

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I agree with your advise on keeping a person with dementia hydrated during hot weather. The problem I have at any time is to get my partner to drink and eat at all, sometimes she will go nearly all day without a proper drink just a few sips here and there and then gets so upset when I remind her that she hasn't finished the drinks that I make for her.

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I lost both my parents to dementia . Mum to Alzheimers, dad to vascular dementia. In total 16 years. Now MIL is declining with vascular, and its sad to see her (and my) family struggling with responsibility and acceptance of her condition. I can advise, share the knowledge I gained but until you have lived it you have to find your way, but take the advice thats fits well with you. However, technology has made life a little easier this time around. I would definitely recommend installing cameras and an ALEXA .We have mum's set up with hourly reminders to have a drink, time stamps eg its morning, its evening have you shut curtains. Its tea time have you eaten your tea, Its noon time for lunch. We have cold drinks in individual glasses that are easily visible through the cameras. So we can monitor her intake when we are not there. Her thermostat is controlled remotely so she never gets too cold and we are alerted if its too hot. By ALEXA saying the reminders her frustration is sometimes directed at a machine rather than an individual but by personalising her reminders with our names and hers she takes them quite well.It starts each day with "good morning mum, its mon, tues etc, have a lovely day" . A bonus is the music relevant to her age and past is readily available.
Hope this helps you a little - its hard but try not to take anything personally.

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Strangely enough, it isn't a case of ÂŁx million = cure! Oh that it was that simple!! Just think back to see the progress made with the fight against cancer, but it has taken time. It will happen eventually - but there isn't a cost/result ratio.

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WHEN ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A CURE FOR DEMENTIA
ALL THEY DO IS ASK FOR MONEY!

NEVER A TIME SCHEDULE FOR A SOLUTION FOR DEMENTIA.

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I’m not sure it’s that easy. My understanding is that dementia is a gradual deterioration of the brain cells, whereas Alzheimer’s is a disease. They are making progress, for example the link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but it’s slow progress.

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Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease . Dementia is non specific, it is an overall term. There are over 200 subtypes of dementia.

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HELLO THERE WILL NEVER BE A CURE FOR DEMENTIA BECAUSE THE BRAIN IS SO COMPLICATED THAT SCIENCE AND MEDICAL SPECIALISTS DO NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS. MY MOTHERS VASCULAR DEMENTIA STATED IN 2013 AND IT HAS TURNED HER INTO A STRANGER. SHE IS NOT THE MOTHER I KNEW.HAVING TO WATCH HER SUFFER IN THIS LOCKED IN WORLD IS PAINFUL FOR ME TO ENDURE. SHE TRIES SO HARD TO TALK TO ME LIKE SHE USED TO BUT SHE IS UNABLE TO.I NEED TO FIND THE KEY TO UNLOCK THE DOOR TO FREE HER FROM THIS LOCKED IN WORLD BUT I KNOW I WILL NEVER FIND IT BECAUSE SUCH A KEY DOES NOT EXIST. IT AMAZES ME THAT WITH ALL THE SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE TODAY, A CURE FOR DEMENTIA HAS STILL NOT BEEN FOUND YET THEY CAN PUT A MAN ON THE MOON AND SEND A ROCKET TO MARS. WHAT HOPE IS THEIR FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS?IT IS TOO LATE FOR MY MUM NOW TOO BE CURED FROM THIS SCOURGE THAT IS CALLED DEMENTIA AND CAUSES SO MUCH SUFFERING IN THE WORLD

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Never say never,Colin. I live with my 'locked in' vascular dementia husband so can appreciate your despair. However, I believe that in time, some aspects of dementia will be controlled, if not cured. Forty seven years ago my twelve year old daughter died from an incurable cancer which, had it occurred today, her prospects would have been much more promising. So things do change....not for sufferers today but maybe within the foreseeable future.

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