Protecting the unprotected: Local organizations working to protect elderly from extreme heat
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The scorching temperatures can be uncomfortable, but they can also be deadly. Lubbock’s Adult Protective Services is working to keep one of our most vulnerable populations safe: our elderly neighbors.
Stephanie Bolton, the supervisor of Unit 26 for APS, says elderly people are more susceptible to dehydration, fatigue and heat stroke.
“Their body temperatures don’t regulate as well. You know, you go into your family member’s home and they’re super hot in there because they stay cold, so they’re not recognizing the extreme heat,” Bolton said.
The agency works to identify those safety risks and tries to help. The Llano Estacado Silver Star Board partners with APS to support clients in ways the state cannot. Grant Coordinator Jess Peterson says that includes spending about $12,000 dollars a year on heaters and air conditioners.
“This time of year, it’s air conditioners, and they’ll be flying out the window here after this 100 degree weather, plus,” Peterson said.
The board just got a new $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of West Texas to continue purchasing these systems. Peterson remembers helping a man who lived in a metal mobile home a few years ago.
“He not only did not have an air conditioner inside, he had no fan inside, and we do provide some fans, as well. And we saved his life, we literally saved the man’s life by just providing that cooling for them,” Peterson said.
Bolton says it is important to use the Buddy System:
- Check in on older family, friends and neighbors daily.
- Encourage them to stay hydrated, wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothing, use cool washcloths and turn on the fan.
- If they do not have an air conditioner, remind them they can go to places like the public library or the mall to cool off.
“Just checking on your neighbor, making sure that everyone is safe and hydrated and cool enough is super important,” Bolton said.
Bolton says community members are the eyes and ears for APS when it comes to meeting needs. To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call 1-800-252-5400.
To support the Llano Estacado Silver Star Board, donations can be made via PayPal using the account firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can also send a check to:
PO Box 65195
Lubbock, TX 79464
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