Meals on Wheels volunteers help vulnerable during extreme heat

The temperatures this weekend can prove deadly to the most vulnerable population. 

Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers are helping the elderly in the Austin area community. They are the eyes and ears, checking on their elderly clients and making sure they have what they need and are staying safe and healthy as temperatures rise.

Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver hot, medically tailored meals to more than 3,300 older adults and individuals with disabilities in Central Texas.

"Part of that visit is not only that therapeutic meal that can have improved health outcomes, but it's also that friendly face and that individual that is truly checking on them and kind of serving as a wellness or safety check," Meals on Wheels Central Texas Vice President for Nutrition, Health, and Impact Seanna Marceaux said.

Those checks are especially important during the extreme heat. The CDC said older adults don’t adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature and likely take medications that contribute to heat intolerance. Marceaux said the Meals on Wheels volunteers are there to check on them.


"So during certain times of the year, during certain events, so maybe the heat is one of them, our case managers may reach out to those high risk individuals and ensure that they are checked on because those are usually the individuals that don't have support or might live alone and might be a fall risk," Marceaux said.

Marceaux said more than 85 percent of their clients live below the poverty level and many don’t have air conditioning, but they work to connect clients with groups providing fans and HVAC repairs.

"In the event there is a concern about lack of AC or a client not looking the same as they did the last couple days and knowing the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, we definitely have an escalation process where they contact our office and we can escalate it as far to 911 if we need to, or our case managers might be able to help," Marceaux said.

If you’re a caretaker, the CDC suggests visiting those in your care at least twice a day, make sure they’re drinking enough water, have access to air conditioning, and know the signs of heat stress, like rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, weakness, or nausea.

Austin Public Library locations (except St. Johns) and Austin Recreation and Senior Centers are available to use as a cooling center during normal business hours.