Community effort to keep seniors safe during Michigan heat wave

“It could be as simple as a phone call.”
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Doctors are warning about the dangerous, sometimes deadly, health concerns that this heat wave could have on senior citizens.

People 65 and older have a higher risk of health complications from extended periods of high temperatures. Sparrow Family Medicine Doctor, Dylan McKay said it’s “because they have a tougher time regulating their body temperatures.”

Marilyn Crawford lives in an air-conditioned apartment in Lansing. She said she is staying cool by drinking lots of water and staying out of the sun.

“I get burnings. I just started that like a couple of years ago and I went to the doctor about it. And he says he thinks - he didn’t tell me he knew - he says ‘I think you’re heat sensitive,’” Crawford said.

Crawford moved to Lansing from California where she said she spent a lot of time in the sun. “After all the sun I stayed in, in California, no sunscreen, no nothing – it’s a wonder I can even be out in the heat.”

She even asked to do the interview under a shaded tree. A good way to stay cool according to Dr. McKay who said seniors can become dehydrated a lot faster than other age groups.

“You do lose some of that skin thickness. So, yes, you will evaporate fluids.”

Casey Cooper, Community Engagement and Fundraising Director at the Tri-County Office on Aging, said making sure anyone at risk for heat exhaustion stays cool is a community effort. “It could be as simple as a phone call. If you’re safe and it’s comfortable, you could go to their home and give them a knock on the door and just say ‘hey I hope you’re doing OK it’s been really hot out’. Maybe bring them a bottle of water.”

And Crawford is keeping her water bottle close by. “Lots of water and not overdoing it, you know. If you’ve got to be out in the heat wear a hat, wear some protective screening – which I did put on my arms and my face, you know. Do as little as possible in the heat cause it’s not playing around.”

Some of the first signs of heat exhaustion you will want to look for include:

  • Feeling nauseated or light-headed
  • Feeling cool, clammy, or sweaty
  • Having a rapid heart rate

If you have any of these symptoms, you should rest in a cool place and drink plenty of water. Call your doctor if you don’t feel better soon.


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