The triple digits are here and as every desert dweller knows, it doesn’t take much for the summer heat to turn dangerous. In fact, data from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health shows 2020 was the deadliest on record for heat-related causes in Arizona with 520 recorded deaths statewide, including 323 in Maricopa County. The department’s preliminary report for 2021 shows a slight increase, with 339 heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County.
In both years, the highest proportion of heat associated deaths occurred among those 50-64 years old. Older people are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses, dehydration or even death because their bodies have a harder time adjusting to sudden changes in temperature.
As one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the state of Arizona, Foundation for Senior Living has been working to improve the quality of life for Arizonans for more than 40 years. FSL currently operates the Peoria Senior Center and Community Action Program office providing services such as home-delivered meals, congregate meals, utilities assistance, rental assistance and much more, conveniently located at the Peoria Community Center, 8335 W. Jefferson St.
FSL works tirelessly year-round to keep those who are low income, elderly or living with disabilities safe. However, this time of year it truly is a community-wide effort. Check in with loved ones, friends and neighbors. Know the resources available and plan ahead.
Here are five ways to help seniors stay safe this summer.
• Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Increase water intake and use cooling aids whenever possible, things like wet towels or a pan for water.
• Dress Accordingly: The best way to prevent heat exhaustion is to stay indoors during peak hours of sun, but if you do need to be outside be sure to wear proper clothing and sunscreen and exert as little energy as possible.
• Be Mindful of Medications and Diuretics: Certain medications and diuretics may put you at an even higher risk for heat stroke. Drink even more water than usual and decrease caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
• Have a Plan: Create a wellness checklist to help prioritize safety daily. Keep emergency phone numbers, medication and other pertinent information in an easy-to-locate place. Find and make plans to go to a cooling shelter on the hottest days and have a method for others to enter your home in the event of an emergency.
• Stay in Contact with Others: Consider having a friend or neighbor check in twice each day. Also, carry a cell phone or at the very least, know where to find a telephone at all times.
For more information on FSL and their programs visit https://www.fsl.org.