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Heat carries risks to all, but especially to older Montanans

The heat will be sticking around for the foreseeable future and the risks that come along with it cannot be understated.
Summer Sun and Heat
Posted at 7:29 AM, Jul 10, 2024

MISSOULA — The heat will be sticking around Montana for the foreseeable future and the risks that come along with it cannot be understated.

There are certain populations at higher risk than others, however, such as the older and elderly population. There are several concerns when discussing older adults in the heat.

    The first one is that as the body ages, its response to the heat becomes less effective. This can be compounded by medications being taken as well.
    Another concern for this population is it's often hard to keep tabs on those who live alone and may be dealing with the heat by themselves.

    Besides the isolation of living alone, if their home doesn’t have air conditioning it can lead to a serious situation quickly.

    “I’m not a big fan of the heat at all. The older I get, I think the more we wish we could be snowbirds,” Missoula Senior Center volunteer coordinator Marry Anne Dowdall told MTN.

    So what are some ways to make sure that this population is able to stay cool and safe during the heat?

    Missoula Aging Services says that their Meals on Wheels program is a good option for those who are homebound.

    “One of the programs that we offer here at Missoula Aging Services is our Meals On Wheels program. And it's wonderful. It's a, it's a way of providing nutrition to older adults who are homebound within the community of Missoula. And people often times think about the benefits of the food itself. But another really important benefit especially during these very hot, time periods is it provides a daily check-in” - Missoula Aging Center nutrition services manager Ria Overholt.

    In addition to the Meals on Wheels program, there are also places like the Missoula Senior Center which is not only cooled but also has plenty of fun to offer.

    “We’re open at nine and we're gonna stay open while it's hot like this. We have lunch every day at 11:30, activities all day long. And in the afternoons — when it's hot like this — we're going to be showing some movies and folks can just get out of the heat come and get something cold to drink and sit in our air conditioning and watch movies with us down here at the senior center." - Missoula Senior Center executive director Ellie Boldman.

    So as the temperatures remain high, make sure that you’re staying cool to the best of your ability and keep an eye out for those who may be struggling with the heat.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional information about how the heat can impact older people on its website.