<< Back

Dementia and Summer Heat: The Dangers of an Unlocked Car

June 29, 2018

The statistics are staggering: one in nine people age 65 and older have a diagnosis of a dementia and one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. In Connecticut, an estimated 77,000 individuals over the age of 65 are living with dementia and that number growing to 91,000 by the year 2025. Approximately 70 percent of these individuals will live at home with family. Hardly a hot summer day goes by that we don’t see, hear or read about a child or an animal being left in a hot car - too often with dire consequences. As a caregiver for a family member with dementia, I feel it’s important to mention that hot cars are a danger for this population as well. Recently a local elderly woman with memory issues decided to go grocery shopping on a 90 degree day. She put her shopping list and her checkbook in her purse and went outside to wait in the car for her husband to drive her to the grocery store. The problem was that her husband had passed away a year and a half ago. By the time a family member found her she was unconscious and her body temperature had become critically high. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. After a few days in the intensive care unit and several weeks in a rehab facility she was able to return home. Perhaps you are thinking, “This really doesn’t apply to me. I don’t have a family member with dementia.” An ailing neighbor or perhaps a confused stranger in a parking lot could easily climb into your unlocked car by mistake and not even realize the danger. He or she might not have the ability to figure out how to open the car door or might accidentally lock the door while trying to get out. Always lock your car doors. In addition to being less likely to have your vehicle or possessions stolen you just might save someone’s life. Patty O’Brian is a dementia specialist with Hartford HealthCare Center For Healthy Aging. If interested in learning more about dementia and ways to keep individuals with the disease safe, contact Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging at 1.877.424.4641. Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, a not-for-profit member of Hartford HealthCare Senior Services, is a resource and assessment center designed to enhance access to services and information related to attaining optimal quality of life for seniors and their caregivers. Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging has 10 locations in Connecticut, including New Britain. For more information about Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, click here or call 1.877.424.4641.

Memory Care Center

  • Location

    1260 Silas Deane Highway
    Suite 101
    Wethersfield, CT 06109
    Get Directions >>

  • Contact Us

    Phone: 860.545.7550
    Fax: 860.545.7180

  • Hours

    Monday – Friday
    8:00 AM – 4:30 PM