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Officials Working To Keep Seniors Cool In Hot Weather


With temperatures soaring into the 90s this week, it is important to check on the elderly who can be more prone to heat stress.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat can impact people over 65 due to chronic medical conditions that change normal body responses to heat and the fact prescription medicines can affect the body’s ability to control temperature or sweat.

At the Brookline Senior Center in Massachusetts on Wednesday, the temperatures may have been in the 90s outside, but it was a comfortable 70 degrees inside.

“If they don’t have air conditioning, come here and enjoy it,” said Brookline resident Eleanor Small.

“I love heat, but this is the first year I felt I better be careful,” added Brookline resident Kathryn Kilpatrick.

Brookline Senior Center Director Ruthann Dobek said the facility serves as an area cooling center.

“For people who may not have air conditioning, we’re an official cooling site where people can come and get comfort,” Dobek said.

Doctors like Brigham and Women’s Emergency Room Medical Director Chris Baugh say seniors and those caring for them need to pay special attention to heat-related symptoms.

“Those patients are more vulnerable to those heat emergencies. They’re often having more chronic health problems, as well as their body physiology is less resilient to manage dehydration and extreme temperatures,” Baugh explained.

In Boston, the Elderly Commission focuses on making sure the senior population is aware of the extreme heat and where to seek help.

“The mayor put a call out to more than 30,000 older adults in Boston — in three different languages — in English, Chinese and Spanish, just making sure that folks in the community knew what they could do to stay safe and stay hydrated,” said Emily Shea, Commissioner of the Elderly Commission.

The CDC recommends the following during times of extreme heat to avoid heat-related illness:

  • stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you do not have air conditioning, locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area;
  • drink more water than usual;
  • do not use the stove or oven to cook as it will make your house hotter;
  • wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing;
  • take cool showers or baths to cool down.

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