City of Scottsdale helps senior citizens deal with the heat

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By Jayson Chesler By Jayson Chesler

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In June of 1990, the Valley reached 122 degrees, a record level of heat that stopped flights and impacted anyone who wasn't at an air conditioner.

While this June may not have been quite that hot, the level of heat can still have a big impact, especially on the Valley's senior citizens. For a group that already can have limited mobility and health concerns, adding extreme heat can create a dangerous combination.

91-year-old Philomena Martin is certainly still quick-witted, but she gave up driving more than 20 years ago. Now, Martin lives in Scottsdale with her twin brother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Like many senior citizens, Martin didn't think she'd ever need outside help.

"I never felt that I would have to have somebody bring our food and do this or that," Martin said.

However, extra help can be lifesaving for senior citizens during the summer, as the elderly are more susceptible to heat related illnesses than any other age group. 40% of the 1500 heat-related deaths from 1992 to 2009 were senior citizens, according to the Department of Health Services.

So, volunteers and staff from the City of Scottsdale visited more than 200 homebound seniors throughout Scottsdale, including Martin, in their "Beat the Heat" program. They delivered care packages and checked-in to make sure everything was okay.

The carepackages come with a grocery card, postage stamps and other things senior citizens might want or need, according to Jennifer Murphy of the City of Scottsdale. With Martin, at least, the program was a hit.

"This program, 'Beat the Heat,'  has been the most wonderful program that I've ever heard of," Martin said.

To find out more about the program and what the City of Scottsdale does to aid senior citizens, visit its webpage.