06/22/14 — County seniors can get help to battle heat

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County seniors can get help to battle heat

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 22, 2014 1:50 AM

As the summer temperatures start to climb, one community action agency is paying attention to those who might be adversely affected, the senior population.

Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency Inc., or WAGES, oversees Meals on Wheels, a daily food delivery option.

But the national program is more than a nutritious meal, says Dr. Marlee Ray, WAGES executive director. It can also mean a warm smile and a safety check that allows seniors to keep living safely and independently in their homes each year.

"WAGES does work closely particularly with our seniors, on the hot summer days," she said. "We do that by alerting our volunteers that deliver meals to be more aware and to watch and to talk with our seniors about any needs that they have."

Summer months can be brutal under normal circumstances, but especially in houses that lack air conditioning, she said.

"It comes on us pretty quick," she said. "That's one of the reasons we prepare now. We know in our eastern North Carolina homes that it gets very hot and humid quickly. We try to prepare in advance."

One way of ensuring comfort to those in need is through the distribution of fans, Ms. Ray said.

The service is primarily targeting the senior population, but is not limited to those served by Meals on Wheels, she said.

The agency also works to educate area residents on the precautions to take to prevent heat-related ailments.

"We send out information to those who are on Meals on Wheels about the importance of staying hydrated," Ms. Ray said.

According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those most at risk of heat stress are outdoor workers or those in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmer, construction workers and miners. But those at greater risk also include anyone 65 years of age or older, people with heart disease or high blood pressure, or on medications that may be affected by extreme heat.

Knowing how much water to drink can be confusing, but there is one rule of thumb that may help in keeping it straight -- the "8 by 8" rule. Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

For more information on the fan distribution program at WAGES, contact Brownie Doss at 919-734-1178, ext. 215.