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Home checks for the elderly during extreme heat

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Experts say the elderly are more susceptible to heat related illnesses. They say as we age, our bodies are less capable of adjusting to big swings in temperature.

With what could be the hottest day of the year coming Friday, area organizations are making sure seniors have an extra set of eyes on them.

When the heat index reaches 105, Milwaukee County deploys what's called a 'Heat Task Force' plan. As part of that plan, seniors receiving services from county agencies will get a check-up.

Milwaukee County's Department on Aging delivers meals to seniors on a daily basis, but on Friday the meal will come with something extra -- a 'check-in' to make sure seniors are staying cool and have no signs of heat exhaustion.

"These older adults that you're checking in on, if they have signs like excessive sweating, cold-clammy skin, rapid heart rate but a weak pulse, that may be heat exhaustion,” said Kevin Shermach, Communications Director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.  

The Social Development Commission says it's important to physically check on the elderly.  The SDC will also do check-ins as part of their Senior Companion Program.

"Sometimes they don't even know where their phone is, so it's very important to have somebody come and see you one-on-one. Physically put eyes on you to see that yeah, you seem okay or no, you seem to be a little bit uneasy,” said Michelle Allison, Program Coordinator for the Social Development Commission.

Milwaukee County's five senior centers will double as a cooling center for anyone needing a place to cool off, but it will not stay open overnight.

Allison says seniors who do not have air conditioning should take advantage of one.

“Go to a senior center where they're offering a free meal, and they can rest until the weather, you know, gets a little more tolerable," said Allison.

"We really encourage everybody to think about the folks in their neighborhood, in their family or on their block, any older folks, just to be able to check in and make sure they're doing okay," Shermach adds.

Shermach says people can be proactive in protecting themselves and elderly neighbors starting Thursday night, by making sure windows, blinds and curtains are closed so the sun is kept out and cool air stays inside.


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