The extreme heat of the Texas summer has been slow to arrive this year, as heavy rains of record levels in some areas have drenched the state throughout June and the first days of July. While thunderstorms will apparently linger, the heat is definitely on now, and it will probably get even worse before the cool breezes of autumn are welcomed.

That means the reports of illnesses and deaths as a result of excessive heat will become more frequent. And that means people who see others in physical danger must be willing to react.

Senior citizens arenít the only demographic susceptible to problems as a result of hot weather, but they are more vulnerable. They are also disproportionately represented in statistics that track hospitalizations and deaths as a result of the heat.

Many senior citizens are weakened because of deteriorating health, whether thatís heart disease, respiratory ailments or lapses in judgment. Younger or more able people who are in their families, in their churches or in their neighborhoods should be on guard and prepared to respond ó even if that means intervening against their

wishes.

Many senior citizens are more sensitive to cold weather, so they enjoy the warmer months. They may put on sweaters when most others are in shirtsleeves. They are not inclined to complain when indoor temperatures soar to unhealthy levels. They are less likely to consume the fluids needed to remain hydrated. Some, due to financial worries, decide to leave the air-conditioner turned off.

Many senior citizens prefer not to complain about being uncomfortable, and it may take nothing less than severe pain to prompt them to ask for help. They donít want to be a burden to others, but by the time they signal their discomfort, it could be too late. Many try to sweat it out in overheated homes and apartments, but their bodies are able to cope with the conditions as well as they once could.

The solution could be as simple as taking a person shopping in the heat of the day, or offering a gift of a few dollars to offset utility bills so the air-conditioner can be set at an appropriate level. Stepping in to help is not necessarily being a busybody. It may be a lifesaving act.

Brownwood Bulletin