PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Heat stress can happen to anyone, but those with dementia are at greater risk.
On Monday evening, Norfolk police issued an alert for a missing 85-year-old with dementia. Phillip Rollins was found safe, but the situation stands to remind us of the dangers for those with dementia during the summer.
Alisa Lofton with the Alzheimer’s Association, Southeastern Virginia Chapter warns, “They can end up getting more disoriented and dehydrated, and then possibly looking at going into the hospital.”
Signs of dehydration, such as increased fatigue, dry mouth and headache may be difficult in a person living with dementia. Medications or combinations of them, can affect a body’s ability to regulate temperatures, and older adults in general don’t adjust as easily to sudden temperature changes.
“It’s just kind of important to make sure that we are planning ahead for families making sure that they are checking in on their loved one often,” Lofton told WAVY.
The Alzhemier’s Association advises keeping older adults cool in air conditioning and with fans, especially in the evenings, because even though it gets cooler at night, most times it doesn’t get below 75 degrees and high humidity levels make for difficult sleeping conditions, heightened anxiety and increased agitation.
Anxiety and agitation could lead a person with dementia to roam. One way to protect from that is a Project Lifesaver bracelet.
“If your loved one does get lost they can actually find them if they have this bracelet,” Lofton said.
You can get them through local sheriff’s departments.
The tracking technology mounted to vehicles has been used to locate hundreds of missing people in Norfolk alone.