Senior Citizens And Heat: A Potentially Deadly Combination - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Senior Citizens And Heat: A Potentially Deadly Combination

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SALISBURY, Md. - According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. While the high temperatures are just an annoyance for many of us, it can also be a major health concern, especially for senior citizens.

"Our biggest concerns are heat strokes and heat exhaustion, and dehydration," says Brian Townsend, president of Delmarva's Home Care Solution.

Local officials recommend drinking more water than usual is key.

"Taking water with certain medications from time to time isn't just enough. They need extra electrolytes and things like that to make sure they're hydrated," says Townsend.

Towsend also says, that even if you love to cook, to take a break from the "all day baking," and keep in hand items that do not take a lot of heat to prepare them, such as light salads and sandwiches.

Some experts recommend that the heat should be treated like any other inclement weather, such as a hurricane. Pattie Tingle, executive director of Holly Community Incorporated, says they are particularly concerned about people who are medically fragile that typically rely on electric, and could be seriously affected in the event of a power outage.

"We want to be sure that those who depend on any type of electrical device, for breathing oxygen and those sorts of things, are prepared for that, whether they have back up generators, or if they need to go to friends homes and take their equipment with them."

Many Maintaining Active Citizen Inc. employees in Salisbury expressed concern about senior citizens that live in mobile homes, because they may not have an air conditioner.

"There's just no financing out there to purchase the units for them," says Teri Davidson, Maryland access point director with MAC Inc.

Tingle says this can be a major problem.

"It's not the matter of how hot we get during the day, it's the ability to cool down at night. If there's nowhere to cool down, it's difficult."

The experts advise senior citizens to go somewhere that has air conditioning, or to any of the local cooling centers in Wicomico County. Davidson also recommends to check up on senior citizens, whether it is a loved one or a neighbor, to see how they are doing.

"Just keep an eye out for your neighbors, take care of one another."

To donate an air conditioner or other cooling device to MAC Inc. in Salisbury, call their office at 410-742-0505.

If you are a senior or caring for an elderly individuals, the Home Instead Senior Care Office, offers more tips to help them combater the heat:

• Keep a glass of water in every room to quickly and easily access fluids. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty.

• Go through the closet and remove all heavy materials, long sleeves and dark colors. Store them until fall.

• Set fashion trends. If you're in need of new clothes, check out the latest fashion magazines. Look for short sleeves, lightweight rayons or cottons, and light-colored clothing that reflect the heat.

• Stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Fill up your bird feeder in the morning and water the lawn at night. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.

• Put down that broom! Save household chores, particularly washing and drying clothes and operating the dishwasher, for evenings, when the weather is cooler.

• Take a nap during high heat times – between 3 and 5 p.m. in the afternoon, for instance – or find a good television program or movie to watch.

• While you're napping or enjoying a movie, keep shades down and blinds pulled.  Keeping a house tightly closed is more energy efficient.

• Invite your friends over for an iced tea break. Replace coffee breaks with iced tea or lemonade breaks in an air-conditioned spot – not the patio. Staying in an air-conditioned dwelling during hot days is safer.

• Go on a shopping spree. If you don't have an air conditioner, or if yours is broken, spend the afternoon at the mall. You can shop or just enjoy cool drinks and a good book.

• Put away that meat loaf recipe for the summer and track down new recipes for fruit and vegetable salads. Foods like proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.

• If increased use of a central air conditioning system causes higher utility bills that are a problem for your budget, consider purchasing a fan or small window unit that can cool down a home at a lower cost. In fact, window fans provide an effective way to exhaust the day's hot air during the night.  


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