The Power of Partnerships: Helping Older and Disabled Adults Beat the Heat of Summer

As individuals age and develop chronic medical conditions, they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature and they may also be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. Operation Fan Heat Relief helps vulnerable adults at risk for heat-related illnesses stay safe during the summer. Individuals who are 60 and older, as well as adults with disabilities, are eligible to sign up for assistance. To support this important program, Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) partners with the State Division of Aging and Adult Services and utilizes its network of local service providers throughout our nine-county region to administer supplies. 

Since 1986, Operation Fan Heat Relief has purchased fans for older adults and adults with disabilities, providing them with a more comfortable living environment and reducing heat-related illnesses. This statewide program is made possible by donations from Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress and allows regional area agencies on aging and local provider agencies to purchase fans for eligible individuals. Local provider agencies can also purchase a limited number of air conditioners based on specific health conditions.

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is Centralina’s distribution partner in the Rowan County area. Staff from the Center, including Aging Transitions Manager Ana Herrera Turpin and Executive Director Nan Buehrer, shared the following in regards to the fan distribution program.

Rowan County Older Adults are so appreciative of the fans. Many have only a window air conditioner in one room. The box fans help move the cool air into more of their home. One client shared she has a lung disease and it is very hard for her to breathe. The fan certainly helps her breathe better.”

By the Numbers

More than 1700 fans were distributed to older and disabled adults across the nine-county region in 2021-2022 and the program is expected to resume again in spring 2024. Centralina AAA appreciates the ongoing partnership with these nine local county providers. They help identify and distribute fans to individuals at risk for heat-related medical conditions.  

  • Anson Council on Aging                          
  • Cabarrus Department of Human Services                             
  • Gaston Department of Human Services             
  • Iredell Department of Social Services     
  • Lincoln Senior Services
  • Mecklenburg Tyvola Senior Center
  • Rowan Rufty-Holmes Senior Center
  • Stanly Senior Services Department
  • Union Council on Aging

More information about Operation Fan Heat Relief, including tips on preparing for extreme heat and a list of local agencies distributing fans across NC, is available at