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As extreme heat hits the US, health agencies help out seniors

July 18, 2013

When it comes to extreme heat, this summer has been one for the record books. Much of the Northeast and Midwest have experienced temperatures rising into the upper 80s and lower 90s throughout much of the last two weeks, and late last month the West Coast saw temperatures reach triple digits. While such hot weather is uncomfortable for anyone, for seniors it can be dangerous. Older adults have a difficult time regulating their body temperature, which puts them at risk for a number of heat-related health issues. But communities across the country have helped keep seniors safe this summer.

Seniors in Philadelphia have turned to a program offered by the Mercy Health System, reports ABC affiliate WPVI. The program provides seniors with a cool place to wait out the heat while also encouraging them to take steps to protect themselves from conditions such as heat stroke and dehydration. Dr. Donna Raziano, the Mercy Health System's associate chief medical officer, said it's important for other retirement communities and senior living facilities to follow their example.

"That's the key this week, this could be deadly," she told the news channel. "That's the real message, that this is not something to take lightly. You need to stay out of the heat, stay out of the sun.

There are a number of tell-tale signs that a senior could be experiencing heat stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to symptoms such as red, hot or dry skin, a rapid pulse, dizziness, and nausea. It's also important to be wary of heat exhaustion, which is typified by heavy sweating, paleness and headaches.