"We want to remind older people now to take steps to
avoid heat stress," said Illinois Department on Aging Director
Charles D. Johnson. "Although most of us bundle up against the cold,
we often fail to recognize that extreme heat and humidity pose
similar threats, particularly as we age."
Humidity combined with
temperature make up the heat index, which is similar to the wind
chill factor in winter. If the temperature is in the 90s with high
humidity, it can feel like it is well over 100 degrees. Johnson
pointed out that the body's cooling system becomes less efficient
with age, and this puts increased stress on the heart. Seniors are
at an increased risk, especially if they take certain medications,
drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition or have conditions such as
arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
The Department on Aging
educates Illinois' seniors and provides materials outlining dangers
associated with the summer weather, such as performing well-being
checks on vulnerable seniors; providing cooling centers at senior
centers, adult day service centers and nutrition sites; as well as
extending hours and providing transportation as requested. Public
service announcements will be used statewide to educate seniors
about available services.
In the beginning of June, the governor launched the Keep Cool
Illinois campaign, a comprehensive multiagency effort to help
prepare Illinois residents for the dangers and risks that summer
temperatures can bring. The campaign includes a statewide network of
cooling centers, targeted outreach to vulnerable residents, energy
assistance programs, public service announcements, air pollution
warnings, fire safety, water safety and energy-savings tips.
Illinois residents can find additional summer safety, health and
energy-savings tips at
www.keepcool.illinois.gov or by calling 1 (877) 411-9276.
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During heat emergencies, seniors are urged to contact their local
Area Agencies on Aging or the Senior HelpLine, (800) 252-8966, for
assistance with locating senior centers, adult day service sites and
other familiar buildings that serve as cooling centers.
The Keep Cool Illinois campaign's list of reminders below will
help older people prevent health complications so they can enjoy
Keep Cool Illinois tips for seniors:
Avoid long exposure
to the sun.
Drink plenty of
fluids, remembering that water is best.
Avoid caffeine and
Spend as much time
as possible in an air-conditioned or cool environment -- either
at home or at community cooling centers.
Use fans in
well-ventilated areas, remembering that a fan in a closed room
simply redistributes the heat.
Take cool baths or
showers and use cool compresses on your neck and wrists.
activity, especially during the middle of the day.
Avoid heavy meals
and using cooking ovens.
Do not take salt
tablets unless directed by a physician.
Keep shades drawn
and blinds closed, but windows slightly open.
lights off or turned down.
friends and neighbors check regularly to see how you are
withstanding the heat.
Never ignore danger
signals like nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
If you or anyone
you know needs medical attention, immediately call 911 or, in
Chicago only, 311.