Against the extreme heat, the “neighborhood butlers” arrive, helping the elderly. The initiative of the Liguria Region

Against the extreme heat, the “neighborhood butlers” arrive, helping the elderly. The initiative of the Liguria Region
Against the extreme heat, the “neighborhood butlers” arrive, helping the elderly. The initiative of the Liguria Region

There is an Italian region in which the Heat waves are scarier than elsewhere. AND this region is Liguria, first of all for a demographic reason: it is the area where there are more elderly people in Italy and where, consequently, the risks are greater. Alessandro Piana, who is the interim president of the Region, has therefore brought together the council and collaborators to launch an integrated plan that involves not only family doctors and healthcare companies, but also civil protection, social services and all potentially affected structures. And he also launched a communication plan, with testimonial Corrado Tedeschi and his daughter which play ironically on the classics advice that is repeated to us on unified networks every summer. Never too much, so much so that we also start from the Decalogue, starting from the very classic “don’t go out between 11am and 6pm, when temperatures are high, avoid direct exposure to the sun in the hottest hours of the day”.

We then move on to advice related to nutrition: drink lots of water and eat fresh fruit to mitigate the effects of the heat; eat light meals because digestion is a real job for our body which increases the production of heat in the body; respect the food preservation methods, given that high temperatures obviously favor the deterioration and contamination of food, resulting in gastroenteritis and food poisoning; and obviously all this is combined with the fact of not consuming alcohol and especially spirits, nor frozen, carbonated and sugary drinks.

From the dining room to the bedroom is one step, but even in this case there are tips to take, starting from that of wearing light clothing, choosing clothes made of cotton, linen and natural fibres, avoiding synthetic fabrics as much as possible. The direct consequence is to improve home and work environments, shielding windows with curtains and blinds to prevent the passage of light, but not the very important air.

Even car travel isn’t immune to advice (and the risks), also in this case starting from what might seem obvious, that is, traveling in a cool place, ventilating the passenger compartment before starting a journey and never leaving babies and children alone in the car in general. And especially for children, special attention is needed when they go to the beach, protecting them from sun exposure during the hot hours and in any case protecting them with a high-level sunscreen. And for animals too, you must always make sure they have fresh water available, avoiding taking them for a walk during the hottest hours, but also avoiding leaving them in the car, because the passenger compartment heats up quickly.

The last piece of advice signed by Alisa, which is a sort of super local Ligurian health company that deals in particular with health politics and policies, is related to drugs which, in conditions of high temperatures, must be preserved with particular attention. And it is highly recommended to check with your doctor for a possible modification of therapies, also in relation to blood pressure.

In short, the interim president Alessandro Piana turns into a disseminator of good practices and the doctors do the rest, starting from his health councilor Angelo Gratarola who is a pure technician and comes from the trenches of leading the emergency room of San Martino in Genoa, the largest hospital in Europe, where on the occasion of heat waves record access. And then Gratarola was responsible for the regional emergency-urgency department, which means all the emergency rooms and intensive care departments of Ligurian hospitals, i.e. the first line. And he explains: “The heat plan launched again this year by the Liguria Region through networking in synergy with local authorities allows us to implement effective actions to deal with any heat waves that characterize the summer season.

The objective is to keep attention high on the most exposed people and the invitation addressed to Ligurians is to follow the useful and valuable advice to prevent any damage from excessive heat. Like every year, family doctors, paediatricians and local health authorities will have at their disposal the list of their patients who may be susceptible to heat waves with the aim of monitoring their needs and health conditions and from this year citizens Ligurians can count on the clinics that will be progressively opened dedicated to low complexity in the districts or in community houses open from 8 to 24. A service that will prove essential especially during the summer to deal with the problems related to its possible complications”.

And here we come to a “team game” which is a model then also followed by other regions, starting with a toll-free number for the elderly and frail wanted by the councilor for social policies Giacomo Giampedrone which provides for the summer implementation of “neighborhood butlers”, a widespread service in the area which collects citizens’ requests, starting from the most basic ones such as that of going shopping to avoid risky outings. And it is a geriatrician who has made the history of the discipline in Genoa like Ernesto Palummeri and who today is responsible for the center for the prevention of the effects of heat waves who explains the particular attention towards the guests of the RSAs: “Every day the bulletin which identifies the level of risk linked to climate data”.

And here comes a very important clarification: that is, the temperature cannot be considered as an absolute value, but must be considered together with the humidity: “Thus – explains Palummeri – when risk conditions are foreseen, warnings are issued to all health, socio-health and social structures” . And there is also the possibility of hospitalization in a “low intensity” RSA, as if they were the white codes of the emergency room, when the indices turn orange or red.

The main requests to neighborhood butlers they concern information on the climatic conditions of the days to come (the bulletin service provides information on the day but also for the following two days); any open and air-conditioned community centers in the area; expenses and small commissions; some transportation; and also the company of lonely elderly people.

So much so that the councilor for Social Services of the Municipality of Genoa Lorenza Rosso, in the company of her colleague responsible for Civil Protection Antonino Sergio Gambino, launched a tele-company program, with socialization activities in fifteen air-conditioned “oases”, as well as discounts on beaches and municipal swimming pools. Sometimes, to cool off, company is more effective than air conditioning.

June 22, 2024

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