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Home » Your health and services » Stay well this summer » Staying well in hot weather – tips for the elderly

Elderly people, and particularly over 75s, are more vulnerable to very hot weather than younger adults. This is due to a combination of factors.

Firstly, because the kidneys become less active over time, they become less efficient at producing a hormone which tells us we’re dehydrated and makes us thirsty.

Older people are also are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat. They’re also more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature or that limit or stop sweating.

As well as our more general advice on staying well during summer, our hot weather tips for the elderly include:

  • Make sure that either yourself or loved ones have a good supply of food, household essentials and medication. This can help avoid emergency outings in the hottest part of the day (between 11am – 3pm).
  • Try to book any essential appointments for the morning or late afternoons. This will help you avoid the day’s heat.
  • If you’re caring for someone with dementia, try to make sure they stay hydrated. You may have noticed that the person you care for forgets or is reluctant to drink. Try to encourage them by having a social (decaf) coffee or tea and make sure they have a drink with meals. You could also tempt them with fresh fruit, salads or jellies, as these all have high water content.

Dehydration symptoms in the elderly


Symptoms of dehydration or heat exhaustion and heatstroke in the elderly are the same as younger adults and children. However, many of the symptoms are not exclusive, and can be easily mistaken for symptoms of pre-existing conditions.

Dehydration symptoms include:

  • dryness of the mouth, lips and tongue
  • sunken eyes
  • dry inelastic skin
  • drowsiness, confusion or disorientation
  • dizziness and low blood pressure

Symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion include:

  • headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • temperature of 38°C or above
  • being very thirsty

If you spot any of these signs either in yourself or someone you care for, you can always call NHS 111 for guidance.


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