Visiting Nurses on watch for heat illnesses

July 16, 2013 2:54:54 PM PDT
In this excessive heat, many health agencies are taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe. The majority of those who die from excessive heat are elderly people living alone.

Action News went along with the Visting Nurses Association of Philadelphia on rounds today in the Mt. Airy section of the city.

Physicians assistant Ashley Barrat was checking in on 89 year old Mary Thompson.

Ms. Thompson has 6 children, 11 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

But these days she lives alone.

So Ashley has been making more frequent stops to make sure she and other seniors are staying cool.

She encourages others to do the same as the sun continues to sizzle, and homes get hotter.

"You want to at least see a fan, in this heat even if they do not have air conditioning make sure a window is open, have some air circulating so they can cool down," says Barrat.

Ms. Thompson told Action News she is not a big fan of the AC. It makes her arthritis worse.

"My knees get stiff and they pain more," she said.

It's a common complaint among seniors. Some even cover the ac unit.

But it is the best defense against heat related problems.

So Ms.Thompson keeps hers going upstairs and in the kitchen.

"When you get older, everything starts changing. So its important older people stay comfortable in this heat," she told us.

Ashley also encourages everyone to drink plenty of non alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.

She herself is 6 months pregnant, so she's got her own advice for other mothers-to-be to be especially careful in this heat.

"Drink lots of fluids. You will be running to the bathroom but it is better for the baby to be as hydrated as possible," says Barrat.

Be on alert for early signs of trouble - upset stomachs, queasy feelings, and fatigue.

If you're in doubt, call your doctor or nurse practitioner to have them checked out.

For more information on the Visiting Nurse Association of Philadelphia, click here.


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