Heat Stroke in Older Adults: Understanding the Risks and Staying Sun Smart

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with heat stroke, particularly in older adults. Heat stroke is a serious condition that can have severe consequences for seniors, but with the right knowledge and precautions, it can be prevented.

Understanding Heat Stroke in Older Adults

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s core temperature rises to dangerous levels, usually above 40° Celsius. Older adults are more susceptible to heat stroke due to several factors, including:

  1. Decreased thermoregulation: As we age, our bodies become less efficient at regulating temperature, making older adults more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.
  2. Chronic medical conditions: Seniors with chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes may have a reduced ability to cope with extreme heat.
  3. Medication use: Certain medications, including diuretics, antihistamines, and beta-blockers, can impair the body’s ability to cool itself down, increasing the risk of heat stroke.

Recognising the Symptoms of Heat Stroke

It is essential to be able to recognise the signs of heat stroke to initiate prompt treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • High body temperature: A body temperature of 40° Celsius or higher is a significant indicator of heat stroke.
  • Hot, dry skin: The skin may feel hot and dry to the touch, with no evidence of sweating.
  • Headache and dizziness: Severe headaches, dizziness, confusion, and even fainting can be experienced by individuals as symptoms of heat stroke.
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing: An elevated heart rate and rapid, shallow breathing are common symptoms of heat stroke.

Sun Smart Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke

Protecting older adults from heat stroke requires adopting sun smart strategies. Here are some effective preventive measures:

  1. Stay hydrated: Encourage older adults to drink plenty of fluids, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Water, herbal teas, and fruit juices can help maintain hydration levels.
  2. Avoid peak sun hours: Limit outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If going outside is necessary, ensure they have access to shade.
  3. Dress appropriately: Recommend lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen. Hats and sunglasses can provide additional protection.
  4. Apply sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (30 or above) and apply it generously to exposed skin, including the face, neck, and arms.
  5. Create a cool environment: Ensure that the living space is well-ventilated, use fans to circulate air and create a comfortable indoor temperature.

When to Seek Medical Help

In severe cases, heat stroke can be life-threatening. If you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke, take immediate action:

  • Call emergency services: Dial emergency services or seek medical attention right away.
  • Move to a cooler place: Transfer the person to a shaded or air-conditioned area.
  • Apply cool compresses: Use cool, wet cloths or towels to lower their body temperature until help arrives.

Heat stroke is a serious risk for older adults, but by taking preventive measures and staying sun smart, it can be avoided. Recognising the symptoms of heat stroke, staying hydrated, and protecting against excessive sun exposure are crucial steps in safeguarding the well-being of older adults during hot weather. Remember to follow these tips and keep a watchful eye on your loved ones to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer season.

Ballaghaderreen Needs Analysis Fun Days

Over the past couple of months, RHS Home Care has been conducting a needs analysis for the town of Ballaghaderreen, with the objective of creating a comprehensive report on the town’s needs for the benefit of the local community. The ultimate goal is to present this report to the county council and the government, and to seek their support in creating social supports for the residents and workers in the town.

To encourage participation in the survey and connect with the people of Ballaghaderreen, RHS Home Care organised two fun days at Duffy’s Supervalu in the town. The event was a great success, thanks to the many participants including Shannonside FM, local school students, Ballaghaderreen Men’s Shed, An Garda Síochána, the Fire Brigade, Corvenieos Entertainment, among others. Below are a few of the photos taken during the two-day event.

HSE Home Support Service

The HSE Home Support Service (formerly called the Home Help Service or Home Care Package Scheme) aims to support older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and to support informal carers.

Home Support Service for people aged 65+

The HSE’s Home Support Service is available to people aged 65 or over who may need support to continue living in the comfort of their own home or to return home following a hospital stay. Exceptions are made for people younger than 65 who may need support. For example, people with early onset dementia or a disability.

The Home Support Service is funded by the state and can be delivered to you free of charge by approved providers such as RHS Home Care. You do not need a medical card to apply and your income will not be assessed.


A tailormade home care plan is put in place to cater to the individual’s needs, which can include:

• Getting in and out of bed
• Dressing and undressing
• Personal care such as showering and shaving
• Mobility
• Food preparation
• Medication prompting

Our carers are professionally trained to  carry out constant employee reviews to ensure that our healthcare assistants are meeting the care requirements of our clients.

How to Apply for Home Support Services

You can obtain an information booklet and application form from you GP, Public Health Nurse or other healthcare professional, or you can ask your local Home Support Office to send it to you.

Alternatively, you can download the booklet and application form here

You must fill in the application form and return it to your healthcare professional or your local HSE Home Support Office. If you are unable to apply yourself, someone can apply on your behalf. This could be your relative, family carer, GP or public health nurse.

After the HSE receives your completed application form, the HSE will arrange to assess what kind of support you might need. This is called a Care Needs Assessment..

How to choose RHS Home Care as your Home Support Service Provider

Your healthcare professional may give you a list of approved providers to choose from and as RHS Home Care is an Approved Provider of HSE Support Services you can select us from the list. Alternatively, when completing the form you can apply to be considered for Consumer Directed Home Support.

Consumer Directed Home Support (CDHS)

Consumer Directed Home Support (CDHS) is another way your home support can be delivered by an Approved Provider, CDHS is not available in all areas. You can contact your local home support office to find out if it is available in your area.

If you are approved for a Home Support Service and HSE staff are not available to deliver the service, then a provider who has been approved by the HSE, will deliver the home support to you.

You will deal directly with the HSE Approved Provider(s) of your choice to arrange days and times of services that meet your essential care needs. These will be identified during your care needs assessment.

You can choose to be considered for CDHS when you are completing your application form. If you apply for, and are approved for CDHS, after your care needs assessment, you will receive a letter from the HSE approving a weekly amount of funding.  You can use this to arrange home support from RHS Home Care or any approved provider you choose.

For more information visit the HSE website by clicking the link below: