Tuesday we wrote about the dangers of leaving a child in a car in extreme heat. Today, we address the threats from the heat to senior citizens.

The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s for the rest of the week.

Every year, hundreds of people nationwide die from heat stroke. Many other deaths occur from causes related to high temperatures. Nearly half of all victims are 65 years and older.

Prolonged heat exposure takes a toll on the body, compromising the ability to cool itself. Older adults are most susceptible to this due to the aging process - an older body is less efficient in reacting to the heat.

We must make sure that our elderly relatives, friends and neighbors are being cared for.

High energy costs affect seniors on fixed incomes. To cut utility costs, seniors are less likely to use air conditioners, thus increasing the risk for heatstroke. They remember the days before air conditioning and think they can handle the heat.

They're wrong.

Studies show that although hot weather places everyone in danger, factors that increase the risk for heat-related illness include: advanced age; heart, lung, or kidney disease; medication; high blood pressure and diabetes

There are simple things each of us can do to help the elderly through this rough patch of weather.

Make daily phone calls to check on older neighbors. Create a list of neighbors willing to offer help to the elderly in your neighborhood during an emergency

If energy costs are a factor, take an elderly neighbor to an air-conditioned public facility, such as a senior center, movie theater, public library, or shopping area. If needed, invite them to spend the day or night at your home.

Senior citizens are a proud group that values independence. Don't wait for a plea to help. Be pro-active and check in before the situation becomes dangerous or life threatening.