As temperatures rise across the country, Cigna will provide its Medicare Advantage customers rides to community cooling centers to safely find relief from the heat. Any Medicare Advantage customer with a transportation benefit can now use this service throughout the summer at no extra cost.
“Older adults tend to be more susceptible to heat-related conditions, often because they have pre-existing medical conditions or take prescription or over-the-counter drugs that limit the body’s ability to control its temperature,” said Joseph B. “J.B.” Sobel, M.D., chief medical officer, Cigna Medicare. “Cigna is committed to helping older adults stay safe and healthy, and free rides to cooling centers is one important way to avoid preventable heat-related illnesses this summer.”
More than 650 people in the United States die each year from heat-related illnesses, with the majority being people who are aged 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some additional risk factors include living alone and being without access to air conditioning.
Cigna Medicare Advantage customers can now use their same-day transportation benefits for rides to a community cooling center or other public locations with air conditioning, such as a library or senior center, in addition to doctor’s appointments, the pharmacy, or to receive COVID-19 vaccines or boosters. To schedule a ride, customers or caregivers should call the number on the back of their customer ID card.
During heat emergencies and summer power outages, Cigna advises family members to check on their older loved ones, neighbors, and seniors in their community. To learn more about weather-related resources available in your area, such as utility assistance, visit https://cignacommunity.findhelp.com/ and enter your ZIP code.
Dr. Sobel provides the following tips to help older adults stay safe during the summer.
Check the forecast each day
That way you know exactly what to expect. Pay special attention to heat advisories or warnings and take them seriously.
Stay indoors, in air conditioning, during excessive heat
If your home isn’t air-conditioned, spend the heat of the day someplace that is, such as a shopping mall, a movie theater, a library, or a family member’s or friend’s house. In many communities, senior centers, churches, and social service organizations provide cooling centers when the temperatures rise. If you aren’t running your air conditioning because you need help paying your utility bill, resources may be available to you. Go to https://cignacommunity.findhelp.com/This link will open in a new tab. and enter your ZIP code to learn about programs that are available in your community.
Make sure to hydrate
Drink more water than usual. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid drinks containing alcohol.
Dress for the heat
Wear light, loose-fitting clothes in light colors.
Don’t overdo it
Limit strenuous activity. Take frequent breaks. Move slowly.
Remember to apply sunscreen
The majority of skin cancer cases are found in people older than 65. Also, sunburned skin makes it more difficult for your body to cool down. To reduce risk, you should use a sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher that the label says “blocks UVA and UVB” or has the words “broad spectrum.” Reapply every two hours.
Avoid the hottest part of the day
It’s safer to go out in the morning or the evening.
Monitor your medications
Some widely used medicines, including some available without a prescription, may affect your body’s ability to control its temperature or to sweat. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns.
If you become overheated, take action right away
Go to a cool place, rest, and drink plenty of water. Symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. If symptoms like these don’t go away or get worse, seek medical care.
In closing, Dr. Sobel advises caregivers to stay vigilant during hot weather and check on loved ones regularly. If you don’t live close to your loved one, make sure to have the name and number of a neighbor you can contact if needed.