CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As the extreme heat affects impacts us all, seniors are more prone to health-related illnesses.
Meals on Wheels in Northeast Ohio is on the front lines of making sure the elderly don’t go without food, but there are extra responsibilities when the temperatures rise.
Dawn Moeglin is the Senior Director of Community Engagement for VANTAGE Aging.
She said increased communication is taking place with volunteer coordinators, site coordinators and delivery drivers to make sure seniors know about rising temperatures and take precautions.
“Some of them (seniors) don’t even have television sets, so they don’t know that a heat wave is on the way,” Moeglin said.
“(Delivery drivers) are checking in to make sure they have air conditioning, fans and windows that aren’t closed up and painted shut,” she added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states people 65-years-old and older are more prone to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
Experts say it’s because the bodies of seniors can’t adjust quickly to quick temperatures changes, may already have chronic illness or be on medication that affects the ability to control temperatures or sweat.
Moeglin said there’s another thing to look for.
“A lot of people, like seniors, won’t turn on their air conditioning because they’re afraid of the bills and H.E.A.P. assistance will help them with that,” Moeglin said.
H.E.A.P. stands for Home Energy Assistance Program. It helps cover seniors’ utility bills and can connect them directly to getting air conditioners and fans.
"If we feel that they're in an environment that's not going to be conducive to this heat wave, we're letting their next of kin know," Moeglin said.
She said it's important for everyone to check in on their neighbors and make sure they have what they need to stay safe.
If there’s any safety concern the best advice is to call 911.