2001-06-27 / Seniors

Stupp Tells Seniors How To Beat The Heat

By John Toscano

Summer is here and so is the threat of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The Commissioner of city Department for the Aging, Herbert Stupp, is again issuing reminders to the city’s elderly of steps they can take to keep healthy and comfortable when the thermometer starts to climb.

Stupp says heat stroke symptoms typically include a rise in body temperature to 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, although some persons might feel a chill; heartbeat and pulse become more rapid, but there’s not much sweating. Heat stroke can also produce red, hot, dry skin, very bad headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.

Stupp says heat exhaustion precedes heat stroke. Heat exhaustion signs are sudden weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, profuse sweating and a fainting feeling. The skin turns pale or gray and feels moist, pulse slows and muscles cramp.

Anyone experiencing either heat stroke or heat exhaustion symptoms, seek medical help immediately, Stupp advises.

When the weather becomes really hot, stay inside a house or in any other place with an air conditioned room or a room with a fan. Keep windows shaded during the day but open them at night when temperatures may be cooler.

Avoid strenuous activity and drink lots of water or fruit and vegetable juices and other caffeine-free liquids, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks high in salt or caffeine. A very important point, says Stupp—stay away from alcohol.

Clothing should be lightweight, light in color and loose fitting. Natural fabrics such as cotton are best.

Consult your doctor if you take antihistimines, tranquilizers, sedatives, amphetamines, anti-depressants and diuretics. "All these drugs may be harmful in extreme heat," Stupp says.

It’s a good idea to visit your local senior center, Stupp added, because 80 percent of the city’s 340 senior centers are air conditioned. To find an air conditioned center, call (212) 442-1000 at the Department for the Aging during business hours. TTY users can call (212) 442-3078 or (212) 442-3079.

REGULATING ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES: According to the American Health Care Association, assisted living facilities (ALF) are the fastest growing type of senior housing in the United States, growing at an estimated rate of almost 20 percent. In New York, state Senator Frank Padavan says, assisted living costs anywhere from $1,500 to as much as $6,000 a month, and usually is paid for by the individual with no government assistance.

Padavan (R-C, Bellerose) thinks that as with any area of growth, some oversight is necessary to prevent unscrupulous individuals from preying on the vulnerable.

Oversight would be provided under a bill, introduced by Padavan, which was passed by the senate last week.

The bill requires all ALFs to register with the state Health Department and provide a written residency agreement and individualized service plan for each resident. This would give an individual a chance to compare ALFs so he or she can make an informed decision in selecting one.

Padavan says the bill would make clear what services a facility provides and the cost involved.

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