TOWNSEND -- Hot, humid weather is especially difficult for people with respiratory problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chris Clish, the director of the Council on Aging has a few suggestions for seniors during the summer.
-- Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink a lot of water. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated.
-- Be careful about exercising in really hot weather. "Even walking, if they have any kind of respiratory issues, they really shouldn't be walking in the humidity," Clish said.
-- Control the temperature in your home. If you do not have air-conditioning, close the windows during the day and open them at night. "My mother always did that," she said.
-- Remember to eat. Many people, especially someone living alone, might stop preparing meals in the heat, she said.
-- Be aware of insect bites. Avoid mosquitoes by trying not to be outside at dusk. "If you get bitten by a tick, go to the doctor's and get checked out," Clish said.
-- "Wear your sunscreen. Be careful of skin cancer," she said.
-- Wear light clothing. Colors like white, beige and yellow tend to be cooler. Cotton breathes better than polyester.
The senior center on Dudley Road gives elders a place to beat the heat.
During spells of hot weather, it is a designated cooling center. The center's hours can be expanded if requested by Shirley Coit, Townsend's Emergency Management Director.
"It gets really
Exercise classes are held on the shady side of the center. The walking group "plays it by ear" and only goes outside if the weather is kind.
Two meal programs offer lunch at the center. Kitchen manager Donna Fenton prepares a home-cooked meal twice a month.
Meals provided through the Montachusett Opportunity Council are served twice a week.
The low-cost meals not only give people a chance to eat a full-course meal, they provide a place for fellowship, Clish said.
Old friends even come to visit. After reading about the home-cooked meals in the newspaper, former residents Louella and William Nordstrom stopped in to eat.
They used to own Louella's Candy Shop on the common and now live in Florida.
The center offers plenty of things to do. In addition to exercise classes and meals, there are frequent arts and crafts classes.
Senior specific events happen regularly. The German family will perform Celtic and Broadway tunes on Aug. 13 right after lunch. "When they're finished, there's going to be ice cream sundaes, Clish said.
The Safe Senior program provides a safety net for elders who may be at risk in the home. It is a list of people who live alone, who may be on the outskirts of town, or perhaps have no nearby neighbors, she said.
They will get a call during summer heat waves, winter snowstorms or if the electricity goes out to make sure everything is okay.