When the summer heat arrived in full force, it wasn’t unusual to find dad sitting at the dining room table with sweat beading up on his forehead. When I’d ask him why he turned the air conditioner off, he’d claim no knowledge of doing such a thing.

If the air conditioner was running constantly, he’d turn it off as he worried it was money running out of his pocket. He’d rather sit in a sauna instead.

Luckily, his house never had time to really heat up since I stopped by several times a day to check on him. Eventually, I had to put duct tape across the thermostat with a note that read, “don’t touch,” which would typically turn his concern to the duct tape I was wasting, but it was better than worrying if he was smothering himself.

Besides leaving notes telling him to stay inside when the heat made it too dangerous to work outside, the only way to make sure he wasn’t overdoing it was to stop by more often to check on him as the dementia stole his ability to know when it was time to cool down. 

Every year hundreds of seniors die of heat exhaustion from sitting in a hot house. The news is full of reminders on not leaving children and pets in a hot car, but we should also keep an eye on our senior family members and friends. 

I can understand how we might overlook checking on a senior who’s living on their own, but I still can’t wrap my head around how a person could forget their kid in the back seat of a car. It’s becoming such a real problem that automakers are installing back seat reminders and car seats are being programmed to alert parents that their kid is still in there. Apparently, we are just becoming way too busy to remember anything except for where we put our cell phone. Have we become a society so self-absorbed we can’t remember to take care of those who can’t care for themselves? 

I’m blaming it on social media. The cell phone is taking over our lives. We have chosen to be entertained by technology. It’s causing wrecks and not just with vehicles. Our social skills are in ruins.

I’m not technology-challenged. I have all the bells and whistles on my iPhone and computer just like everyone else. I depend on my cell phone. I feel lost without my cell phone and freak out if I think I’ve lost it. I ask my cell phone what the weather is doing, whether or not the Royals are playing or what to substitute for missing ingredients.

Sorry. I’ve got to go. My cell phone is almost dead.

Sandy Turner is a GateHouse Media columnist.