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When it's too hot, providers handle kids and elderly with care

Aug. 6, 2012

For those in West Allis and Greenfield who provide care and services to groups that include the elderly or small children, this summer's excessive heat has only added to their responsibilities.

The record drought and high temperatures has stressed all individuals, but certain people are considered to be at high risk under such conditions, forcing caregivers to act accordingly.

That largely means adhering to both state and institutional policies designed to protect risk groups.

Elderly care

The Laureate Group - a chain of eight senior care communities, ranging from independent living to assisted living to dementia care - includes communities in both Greenfield and West Allis, where caregivers have enacted corporate guidelines for dealing with the excessive heat.

Most are common-sense guidelines: staying in places that are air-conditioned, going outside either early in the morning or late in the day, taking a cool shower or bath, avoiding dehydration and drinking plenty of fluids.

Layton Terrace in Greenfield has not had any heat-related issues with their residents, but the weather has sometimes impacted their plans.

"When the temperature hits 90, we do not take the bus out," said Pat Dolnik, the director of Layton Terrace. "So we don't go out for our shopping trips and other things. We do all of our activities inside for the day."

The temperatures might also force them to change their schedule slightly while maintaining activities. For example, a July 24 shopping trip planned for 10 a.m. was move up to 8:30 a.m., Dolnik said - a scenario that has been repeated four or five times times this summer.

A representative from the Laureate Group's facility in West Allis, Library Square, was unavailable to comment on how the weather has impacted its activities.

Caring for the kids

The other group that is most at-risk during an excessive heat wave like this one are small children.

Day care centers such as Kids N' Care in Greenfield and All About Learning in West Allis are also having to step up their efforts in protecting those they care for.

Wisconsin State law requires that if the temperature on the heat index is above 90 degrees, children are not permitted to go outside. Not surprisingly, that's altered plans at day care centers, but they still make sure the kids have fun activities to do.

"To get the growth motor activities going, we do growth motor activities in the building," said Sylvia Deigo, a preschool teacher at Kids N' Care. "They will do other kinds of games. They will do physical development activities. Maybe they will play a game like 'Doggie Doggie, Where's Your Bone?', or other kinds of little games that they can play because we are unable to go outside."

She noted that the kids also like to make ice pops - and even learned how to make lemonade from scratch.

All About Learning in West Allis, one in a chain of similar centers all across the Southeastern Wisconsin, has also found indoor physical activities for the kids when it is to hot to go outside.

"The children do large muscle play" said Tayna Graser, the director of All About Learning in West Allis. "We use the gym on the other side of the church, where the children will play basketball or ride around on scooters. They'll create obstacle courses in the classroom and move the furniture aside. They will also do parachute games. Just large indoor activities."

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