Senior citizens at higher risk for heat injury

Helping older adults make it through hot weather (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(SAVANNAH) There’s an effort to check in with thousands of senior citizens as we move closer to a weekend with a high heat index. Senior Citizens, Inc. is reaching out to the people they serve in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties to lower their clients risk of being stricken with a heat injury. SCI President & Executive Director, Patti Lyons says she’s worried. “I’m extremely concerned. We work with a lot of folks who don’t have air conditioning. And for this community, I, I, it’s hard for me to even imagine, but when you have that on relenting heat that we’re about to have, you know, your house gets hot it’s hard to cool it off.” Lyons said.

Lyons worries for older adults like Geraldine Green, an 84 year old grandmother living with an broken air conditioning system. Green says there’s no money in her budget to even have the problem with her system assessed. “They charge you $100 just to come out here and I don’t have that kind of money. But after they check the system that’s more money added to that hundred dollars.” said Green. She’s a recipient of a free fan from SCI. While grateful for the gift, she remembers a time when cooling a home off meant opening the windows, but crime fears forces closes the door on that option in this day and age. “You’re not safe anywhere. ” she said, agreeing that the days of sleeping with open windows and doors are over. “Yeah, I know that’s right that’s true. That’s true. But you best not do it now.” Green said.

The elderly are more vulnerable to heat illness because their bodies don’t regulate heat as effectively as they did when they were younger. There’s also some medicines that render seniors heat intolerant according to Lyons. “Because there’s a lot of medications that older adults take that they don’t, they don’t realize one of the side effects is it makes them heat intolerant. So they just, they need to check their medications.” said Lyons, who adds there is something everyone can do to help the older adults in their lives weather the heat. “If you know someone who is older, you need to check on them, even if they have air conditioning. You know, and air conditioner is only going to reduce the temperature in the home by about 20°. So when you are, so when we are experiencing. 100° weather that house is still hot. So, you need to make that call if you can’t go visit them, make sure they’re OK, make sure they’re drinking water, that they don’t have a headache they don’t have those beginning symptoms of um, heat problems. ” Lyons said.

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