The Shade Brigade is a program launched last month by Emeritus at the Courtyard to help senior citizens who may have immediate needs that stem from summer heat.
“Summer heat can be more than simply unpleasant. It can be deadly,” said Webb Peterson, executive director for Emeritus at the Courtyard. “Seniors are more susceptible to heat stroke than younger people. Because dehydration is more common and more dangerous in hot weather, we’re delivering coolers full of water, frozen popsicles, juice, fruit and safety tips on how to stay healthy during hot weather. We’re also ensuring seniors are safe in their homes and providing resources if they need help in staying cool.”
Nearly 200 Americans, most of whom are 50 or older, die each summer of health problems caused by high heat and humidity, according to Healthinaging.org, American Geriatric Society Foundation for Health in Aging.
Hot weather affects older individuals differently than younger people for a number of reasons, the FHIA says. Older people are less likely to notice when they feel hot, they don’t cool down as well or as quickly, and they’re less likely to feel thirsty, so they may become dehydrated.
Chronic diseases, common in later life, such as heart problems and diabetes, and certain prescribed and over-the-counter medications also can contribute to an increase in heat-related problems, according to the FHIA.
The Shade Brigade program is offered nationwide for free as part of Emeritus Senior Living’s Safely Somewhere program. The goal is to reach 5,000 seniors through the summer months. The focus is to ensure that, no matter where seniors may live, they are safe, said Lisa Osterloh, community relations director for Emeritus at the Courtyard.
“There is no charge for any of the varied community services we provide to the seniors who remain living in their homes,” Osterloh said.
Among the services are performing safety checks of certain equipment, such as air conditioners and smoke alarms, making certain that appliances are working, identifying any tripping hazards, such as loose throw rugs or electrical cords lying on the floor, and even delivering meals, as needed. Osterloh averages 20-25 monthly home visits.
The Safely Somewhere program receives calls for help from seniors who contact Emeritus at the Courtyard directly, or they may be referred by their children who live out of the area, friends, neighbors, members of their church, or by another aging services provider. Seniors who already have received services automatically will be included in the Shade Brigade, Osterloh said. To help a senior in need, call Osterloh at 253-841-9722 or email email@example.com.
Emeritus at the Courtyard in Puyallup is an assisted living facility and is part of Emeritus Senior Living, the nation’s largest memory care and assisted-living provider. Seattle-based Emeritus serves nearly 50,000 residents in more than 480 communities located in 45 states.
How to stay cool
• Stay out of the sun whenever you can and wear loose, light-colored clothing and a lightweight, broad-brimmed hat when you go out.
• Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of 30 or higher.
• Turn on an air conditioner or go to a place that has air conditioning.
• Walk or do activities such as yard work early in the morning or when the sun is going down.
• Drink plenty of cool water, clear juices and other liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine.
• Take tepid (not too cold or too hot) showers or baths when your feel warm.Linda Henry is a freelance reporter for the Herald.