As individuals age and develop chronic medical conditions, they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. They may also be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. Take advantage of Operation Fan Heat Relief (OFHR) and help adults at risk stay safe this summer. Since 1986, Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas, Valassis Giving Committee and Dominion Resources have made contributions through the Division of Aging and Adult Services to Area Agencies on Aging to purchase fans in support of OFHR, a summer program intended to provide a more comfortable living environment and reduce heat related illnesses for older adults and adults with disabilities. No public money is associated with this summer program. The program has been successful because of the concerted effort of 16 regional area agencies on aging, and their local aging and human service provider agencies, which purchase and make fans available to eligible adults. Air conditioners, in certain counties, can be provided on a client-specific basis for adults with more serious health related illnesses.
The OFHR program runs from May 1 to October 31.
You can review county agencies operating the program in your area below.
Hot Weather Tips for Seniors
Talk with your doctor and be aware of the medications you take and know for example that painkillers can reduce awareness of the heat and diuretics, which promote fluid loss, can lead to dehydration more often during hot weather. In addition to using electric fans, the following tips should be observed to reduce heat-related problems:
- Cool off by taking baths or showers, or placing ice bags or wet towels on the body
- Stay out of direct sunlight, put shades over the windows, and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool rooms
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits sweat to evaporate
- Drink plenty of liquids such as water, fruit, or vegetable juices and iced tea to replace the fluids lost by sweating. As a person ages, thirst declines. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages or fluids that have too much salt, since it can complicate existing medical problems, such as high blood pressure
- Eat small meals, and eat more often and avoid foods that are high in protein, which increases metabolic (body) heat
- Keep your medicines in a cool, dry place
- Check up on friends or neighbors who live alone
- This can also be a good time to join your local senior center or take advantage of buildings made accessible to seniors during excessive heat. Your community’s public information office can be contacted for additional information
Take the heat seriously and do not ignore danger signs like nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness, fatigue, confusion, labored breathing, chest discomfort and rapid or erratic pulse. They can all be signs of trouble. Get to a cool place, drink cool water slowly and seek medical help if conditions don’t improve.