Excessive heat takes toll on sick, elderly

The excessive heat can overwhelm even the healthiest people in minutes, but the sick and elderly are most at risk.

Diane Soucie says she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a year ago. Some days she can hardly move.

“Two things that are my worst enemy are fatigue and heat and they go together,” she said. “The body attacks itself and eats away the myelin sheath and the nerves are exposed so they don't know what to do because they are not connecting properly.”

Related: Heat wave hits Portland area

The blazing heat is especially dangerous for people with MS. It can temporarily worsen their symptoms, which for Diane is debilitating.

“If I get too hot it drains me and I can't do anything. And lately I've noticed I've been jerking more,” she said.

Diane isn’t the only one suffering.

All across Oregon and Washington, seniors try to get by in stuffy apartments with fans barely making a difference in hallways without air conditioning.  

Anita Jackson says because of her age and illness she stays inside with the lights off.

“I had a stroke 12 years ago so I can't stand loud noises or bright lights," she said.

While many seniors and disabled people will struggle through the heat, things changed for Diane today. The MS Society of Portland dropped off a window air conditioning unit.

They've done that for 180 people so far, but are still 59 units short of their goal.

“I was like it is really, really here. It was like Christmas! Now that I am getting an air conditioner I'm so excited. I can sleep at night,” she said.

More information of the MS society can be found here. Meals on Wheels People says they are looking for donations of fans so they can pass them out to people who need them. So far they haven’t received any at the downtown location. 


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