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The Dog Days of Summer
By Jose Luis Sanchez, Programs & Aging Initiatives Manager
August 22, 2017
The hottest month of the year is upon us. And while it’s been a pleasant summer in the city so far, we all know that the real dog days of summer can extend well into September. This is why Citymeals asks New Yorkers to check in on their elderly neighbors throughout the season.
With age, it becomes more difficult for the body to regulate temperature – so you might see an older person wearing a sweater or knit cap on a day when you’re comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. As a result, the homebound elderly are at increased risk for health problems on excessively hot or humid days.
Many of our meal recipients live alone and do not have or use air conditioning. They may exhibit classic symptoms of dehydration including: dry, flushed skin; dizziness; dry mouth; headache; rapid heartbeat; sleepiness; weakness; thirst; or the onset of confusion. But the added stress caused by heat can aggravate chronic health problems, like heart or lung disease and diabetes, without any other specific symptoms of heat illness. And humidity alone can pose a unique risk for people with asthma and breathing problems.
More Americans die from heat waves than all other natural disasters. So it’s critical that we all take seriously the precautions to stay cool.
Remind your elderly neighbors to drink plenty of water and to wear light, loose fitting clothing, stay indoors, limit physical activity, and use air conditioning or a fan if possible. Also important when checking in on your elderly neighbors – be mindful of the closest NYC cooling center, which is a neighborhood hub with working air conditioning that all communities can take advantage of when the heat becomes unbearable.
Citymeals and its partners are checking in with meal recipients year-round and we encourage you to do the same, especially on the steamy days that remain.