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Heat wave brings dangers to seniors

By Dannika Lewis, dlewis@wisctv.com
Published On: Aug 27 2013 10:06:22 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 28 2013 07:37:49 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Walking outside with a heavy bag of food maybe wasn’t Julie Tauber’s top choice of things to do with a triple-digit heat index, but she wouldn’t miss her Meals on Wheels route for anything.

“I think sometimes just that two minutes that you spend with them makes their whole day,” Tauber said.

In this kind of heat wave, Tauber isn’t just dropping off her meal deliveries. A number of the homes she visits each week are of older west side neighbors, and she spends some extra time at each one reminding those people to stay indoors and drink plenty of water.

“We don't get this kind of weather that often, but when we do we have to make sure that our seniors are prepared because it just hits us so quick," Tauber said.

Tauber said some of the Meals on Wheels recipients probably can’t afford air conditioning or a fan, so when they don’t act as they normally do for deliveries, she gets worried.

"You get to know them and you get to know their habits, and it gets a little concerning sometimes," she said.

Tod Pritchard, with Wisconsin Emergency Management, sees a pattern during these hot stretches of weather where senior citizens with no air conditioning are socially isolated, making them even more vulnerable to heat-related injuries.

“Heat has a cumulative effect. One day of heat, most people can muddle through that, but when you get more than that, it gets challenging and can be deadly for a lot of folks,” Pritchard said.

Tauber said when the temperatures stay so high for days on end, touching base with these people is just as important as bringing them food.For

“It's still that one extra check during the day when maybe the family member is at work or can't make it over,” Tauber said. “It's that one final check of the day to make sure they're doing OK.”

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