Photo: Valérian Mazataud The Duty
Retired people have taken advantage of the air conditioning in the Rockland Centre in Montreal, Monday, to escape the heat wave that hit southern Quebec in the last few days.
With the wave of extreme heat expected in southern Quebec, doctors, and organizations are concerned about the fate of isolated seniors in their homes, non air-conditioned. They are all the more concerned that many older people are reluctant to leave their homes to cool off, for fear of contracting the COVID-19.
“With the pandemic, there are fewer places open, and the seniors are sometimes afraid to go there,” said Caroline Sauriol, director-general of the Little Brothers, an organization that helps isolated seniors. People are more reclusive at home, especially in the city. “
Dr. Quoc Dinh Nguyen, geriatrician at the CHUM, finds the same phenomenon. “There is a reluctance to go out in a fringe of the population of the elderly. The reflex is less present. “
Seniors are at yet more risk to their health in the insulation in a dwelling at 30 °C than by visiting the place air-conditioned to cool off, according to the doctor. “If people respect the distance of two meters and that they take the trouble of washing hands, there is no danger of catching the COVID-19, said Dr. Quoc Dinh Nguyen. The transmission is significantly weaker than it was two or three months. “
Older people are more vulnerable to heat waves than the general population. As you age, your body only slightly better regulate the internal temperature and to detect the thirst, ” he recalls.
With the pandemic of COVID-19, places for refreshment are limited. In Montreal, the libraries are open, but the subscribers can’t stay there to read. They must remain at the counter of the loans. In the city, water games, swimming pools, and misters, however, are accessible.
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“Places are more restricted with the pandemic,” said Dr Maxime Roy, a medical consultant at the regional Directorate of Montreal public health. That is the big challenge. “
Especially as the authorities warn people not to wander in shopping malls.
“The government has allowed the opening of shopping centres, but at the same time it has discouraged people to sit on it,” says Dr. Maxime Roy. Impossible, said he, to remain there for two or three hours, the time required to have a “respite” heat efficient. The cinema is one option.
“The green spaces and places in the shade under the trees may also be beneficial, adds Dr. Maxime Roy. On the inside, it should not be forgotten that a shower, a bath, a wet towel or even a wet t-shirt can help bring down the body temperature. “
In search of fans
Louise St-Amour, 78 years old, is discouraged by this third heat wave since the end of may. Monday afternoon, it was already 30 °C in his apartment in montreal not air-conditioned, located on the 3rd floor. “The heat, it affects me a lot, she says, on the phone. It carries me to sleep. “
But the question for it to come out. “I have too much difficulty walking,” says Louise St-Amour. If I am obliged to move, to go to the grocery store, for example, I always have to take a taxi. “
Louise St-Amour lives alone in her 6½, since her spouse died, six years ago. Without a family, she receives the aid of the Little Brothers. “My finances are limited,” she said. Its four fans, mounted on the ceiling, do not permanently. “It takes electricity,” she said. I am running only when I am in the room. “
The Small Brothers want to offer Louise St-Amour, a fan on foot. The organization has made an appeal for donations of used appliances recently. “But it has not been a great success so far,” said Catherine Sauriol.
The organization hopes to collect 200 to 300 in his shop, in Montreal, over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, the volunteers of the Little Brothers continue to contact two times per week, and their Great Friends — it is thus they call those who are sponsored. A practice introduced since the pandemic. “We call for a chat and, during heat waves like this week, remind them to drink water, to close the curtains during the day and open their window at night,” said Caroline Sauriol.
It is also what members of the quebec Association of community centres for seniors. Good facilities, some with air conditioning, are closed. “Many of the activities on the Internet or by Zoom or outside, in parks,” said its director-general, André Guérard.
The Little Brothers believe that the authorities could do more to help seniors during heat waves. Transport to air-conditioned areas could be organized according to the organization. Operations door-to-door also, in order to ensure that the elderly are going well.
In Montreal, first responders have conducted door-to-door in areas that are deemed vulnerable during the heat wave in June, reports the regional Directorate of Montreal public health. The heat was then qualified as” extreme ” by Environment Canada (three consecutive days where the average maximum temperature reaches 33 °C and the average minimum temperature does not fall below 20 °C).
“For the moment, the weather forecasts do not give us a glimpse of the three days of extreme heat,” said Dr Maxime Roy. But everything can change, note to the doctor, who invites the citizens to take news of their loved ones elders.