Visiting Angels work to make sure seniors don't become vulnerable in Arizona's heat

As temperatures rise in Arizona, it's putting people at risk, including some of the community's most vulnerable, senior citizens.

There have been three heat-related deaths so far in Maricopa County this year and the county says it's investigating another 10 possible heat-related deaths that happened over the last seven days.

20% of those being hospitalized for heat-related illnesses are 65 years and older.

84-year-old Patricia Walrath says, "the heat is just terrible." She spends most of her day indoors, trying her best to keep cool during triple-digit weather.

"I get lightheaded and if I don’t get inside, I get a little dizzy," she said. If she does overdo it, her home healthcare aide, Linda, makes sure she's safe.

Linda who’s with Visiting Angels checks up on Walrath three times a week. During the summer months, home checks are a little different.

"We have our caregivers monitor our clients' water intake to make sure they’re staying hydrated. Wearing light clothing, staying indoors during the extreme heat hours so they’re not exposed to the heat. We take an extra step and bring cases of water to our clients' homes," explained Kate Dolance, executive director of Visiting Angels.

Caregivers also make sure their clients' air conditioning and fans are working properly. Also on days when they're not visiting in person, they give the seniors a call.

"We’re monitoring the temperatures inside the home, the A/C, making sure it’s working. The air in the car is working when we’re out in their vehicle driving them around for appointments, doctor appointments or running errands. Making sure they’re wearing sunscreen if they’re going outside … making sure they have their sunglasses on because they’re more sensitive to the light," Dolance explained.

She suggests if a senior doesn't have home health care, loved ones should be checking on their seniors often or to have a neighbor do it if you’re out of state.

For more information on Visiting Angels, visit this link

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Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke

The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings
  • Limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (mid-day)
  • Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day
  • Drink water before, during, and after working or exercising outside

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