By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
The headline in Monday, August 9, 2010 edition of the oldest newspaper in Illinois screamed “Extreme Heat Advisory Issued for Illinois.” The story in the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, as well as stories in numerous other newspapers in the state noted that heat indices could top 110 degrees on Tuesday.
The WeatherReport in Tuesday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune talked about excessive heat warnings and advisories for the southern two-thirds of the United States and about temperatures that reached 104 degrees near our corporate office just outside of Kankakee, Illinois.
Our high temperatures, especially when combined with the extremely high humidity levels that we are experiencing, should be of concern, in particular, to older adults.
National Weather Service says that Heat is the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the United States. Older adults and children are categorized as the highest risks for heat related deaths.
According to information posted on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s website, the older adults are more at risk for three key reasons.
- Older adults do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature.
- Older adults are more likely to have a chronic medical condition.
- Older adults are more likely to be taking medication that impairs the body’s ability to regulate temperature or inhibits perspiration.
The CDC encourages us to visit at risk older adults at least twice a day and watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Other tips include the following:
- Drink plenty of water regardless of your activity, even if you are not thirsty.
- Avoid heavy meals and alcohol.
- Take cool baths or showers. Ice bags and wet towels also can be helpful.
Air conditioning can do more than help you stay cool; it can be a lifesaver. The Keep Cool Illinois website has a listing of the cooling centers that are available throughout the state. During heat emergencies, older adults can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 for assistance in locating buildings that serve as cooling centers.
To cool off during heat emergencies, we also invite you to visit a BMA Senior Living Community near you. We have 33 communities located throughout Illinois and one in Indiana. Most of our communities offer affordable assisted living for older adults of all incomes who need some help to maintain their independence. For a map of our communities, click here.
One of the included amenities that takes on so much added importance at our communities when heat warnings and advisories are in effect is air conditioning. The cost of utilities such as air conditioning and heat is included.
In addition, certified staff members are on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Conducting a daily welfare check on each resident is just one of their responsibilities.
An emergency alert system comes standard with each apartment, and three restaurant style meals a day are included. Snacks and beverages are available whenever the dining room is not open.
For more information on heat and older adults and tips for what you can do to protect yourself, here are a couple resource websites that you might want to visit . . .
This year, the Lazy Days of Summer truly are the Dog Days of Summer. In case you didn’t already know, the name the “Dog Days” comes from the ancient belief that the hottest days of summer are the result of Sirius, also called the Dog Star, being in close proximity to the sun during the period of early July through Mid-August in the northern hemisphere.
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“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”