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Elders' helpline, police receive more calls as temperature soars

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feeling faint An elderly woman resting by the roadside in Royapettah recently.
feeling faint An elderly woman resting by the roadside in Royapettah recently.

R. Sujatha

NGO volunteers say they get at least half a dozen calls everyday

CHENNAI: As temperature soars and the heat becomes unbearable, the elders' helpline and police personnel in the city are getting calls to rush help to elderly persons found unconscious on the street.

According to volunteers of HelpAge India, a non-governmental organisation working with the elderly, they receive at least half a dozen calls everyday about elderly persons requiring help.

“We receive at least seven calls each during this season, apart from those who we find on the roadside. The callers give details of the location and the volunteer goes to the person's rescue. In the past years, we have also had to hospitalise a few of them. Some of them recover consciousness after first aid and we try to find out about their family,” said volunteer S. Santhosh Kumar.

According to Rajagopala Balaji, who runs an old age home for pensioners and destitute elderly in Chinmaya Nagar, when residents of the home want to go out, the home ensures that they have attendants or makes transport arrangements. The home also maintains a register where the senior citizens must enter details of their visit.

“We give identity cards that we ask our senior citizens to carry in their pocket when they have to go to the bank to receive their pension. At home, the family members could paste the phone numbers of nearby hospitals to contact during emergency,” he said.

The Government General Hospital, which has a dedicated Geriatrics Department, has been receiving one or two patients with mild forms of heat stroke this year since the beginning of May, authorities said.

“In the next two months, when the temperature is high, more elderly persons will report with heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Owing to ageing, the elderly do not sweat as much as younger persons. This is because blood supply to skin is lesser in the elderly,” said department head B. Krishnaswamy.

Attendant medical problems and medication also affect the sweating mechanism.

By avoiding going out in the sun, wearing simple cotton clothes and taking adequate fluids to prevent dehydration, heat strokes can be prevented, Dr. Krishnaswamy said. Even those above the age of 80 can bathe twice a day in cold water to cool the body. Those who are on medication should consult the family physician about reducing the dosage to prevent heat-related complications, he said.

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