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Seniors stay cool during 100 degree temperatures

By Staff | Jul 26, 2011

Seniors beat the heat by coming to the Meck Senior Center in Muncy Township to play bingo. George Holecek from Muncy is getting a list of hot weather tips from new director, Debby Bidlespacher, at the Meck Senior Center before delivering his assigned meals on wheels.

MUNCY – The Office of Aging from the STEP office in Williamsport has issued some advisory tips for seniors to stay safe and healthy during the high temperatures that have been taking precedence in the news this week and last.

George Holecek from Muncy who delivers meals on wheels to seniors in the area said that he is making sure clients are well and breathing. “We keep a good rapport with them. For some we are the only contact they have with the outside world,” he added and often visits about ten seniors a day, two times a week.

“Very hot temperatures can be hazardous to us at any age,” replied Debby Bidelspacher who took over as new director for the Meck Senior Center due to Leslie Tebbs’ recent retirement.

Elderly people, namely those over 65, are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons according to the Office of Aging. They do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature, and are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat. Sometimes prescribed medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, thus inhibiting perspiration.

“I stay in the house,” said Lorraine Vernarec from Montoursville. It is best to stay out of the direct sun as much as possible and use air conditioners if available, or fans in well ventilated areas. Those who don’t have air conditioning should spend time at the senior center or shopping malls and stores, libraries, or churches where it is cooler.

Drink plenty of liquids, even when not thirsty and avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine which could make heat problems worse according to Bidelspacher. “Even though we can exercise here, we try not to during the high heat,” said Viola Shaner from Unityville who has been trying to mow her yard now for days, but refuses to do it in this heat.

“We should all be aware of some of the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” added Bidelspacher. Some signs can be a high body temperature but no sweating, rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, fainting, confusion, muscle cramps and even unconsciousness. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness, and occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly and is unable to cool down. A doctor or emergency services should be summoned if serious symptoms occur, or if the body rises to 106 F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.

“We’ve had this heat before and most of us have survived,” said June Nelson from Muncy who also advised wearing light weight cotton clothes.

Some of the senior centers are keeping longer hours during the day and also opening on Saturdays until 8 p.m. said STEP Office of Aging Director, Fred Shrimp.