Make sure they have what they need, especially during this cold spell

Staff report


The Area Agency on Aging 11 Inc. urges people to check on elderly family members, neighbors and people with disabilities to make sure they have the resources needed to be safe in frigid weather.

Older adults may have a harder time adjusting to extreme weather conditions, and they lose body heat more quickly than when they were younger, making them more susceptible to hypothermia, said Lisa Solley, chief of community relations, wellness and training for AAA 11.

“Older adults won’t ask for help, so we are asking people to be neighborly and check on them,” Solley said. “If you are going out to the store to get something, we encourage you to check in with an older or disabled neighbors to see if you can get them food or other supplies so they don’t have be out in the weather.”

Some questions to ask seniors include are they staying warm; is their heating system working properly and set at a reasonable temperature; are they using portable heaters safely; and do they have an adequate supply of fuel, if appropriate.

Solley adds you also should ask them if they need medical attention, and look for symptoms of cold-related illness, such as shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech or white/grayish skin color; do they depend on oxygen; are they out of or running low on any medications or medical supplies; or have they fallen.

It also is advisable for seniors to limit travel during frigid weather.

“If you must travel or go outside, it is important to be prepared and limit your exposure, even if it is letting a pet outside or getting the mail,” Solley said. “Bundle up and either have an emergency response button with you or a cellphone to call for help if you should fall.”

Also, she said, shoveling snow can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. There may be services available by calling AAA 11 at 330-505-2300.

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