YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Area Agency on Aging is asking people to check on elderly neighbors or people with disabilities to make sure they are safe in the snow and cold. Older adults may have a harder time adjusting to winter weather. They lose body heat more quickly and are more susceptible to hypothermia. The first thing that you can do is introduce yourself and exchange phone numbers with your neighbors. Let them know that if there’s an emergency you can help.
Lisa Solley with the Area Agency on Aging said it is important to check on elderly neighbors before and after a winter storm. Something that may not seem like an issue for you could be a tough task for your elderly neighbor. “If you are going out to the store, maybe check to see if they need something. Ask them if they have enough water supply. Do they have enough food? Ask them if the electricity goes, are they able to prepare that food?” Solley said. Solley said it’s important to also check to see if your elderly neighbor has all the medication they need and a working phone.
Older adults can also decrease their risk of an accident by staying in when driving conditions are bad, bundle up when going out and always carry a cell phone, even if you are just going out to get the mail.
The Area Agency on Aging offers these tips:
Dress Defensively – Bundle up, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely. Wear sturdy shoes or boots with good treads. Wear sunglasses to reduce glare on surfaces.
Walk Wisely – Slow down and pay attention to how and where you’re walking. Allow extra time to get to where you’re going. Keep sidewalks and stairs outside your home clean of ice and snow, and keep cords and clutter out of walkways inside.
Pack Power – Carry a small baggie of salt, sand or kitty litter in your coat for traction on icy paths. Replace worn rubber tips on canes, walkers and crutches.
Keep Connected – Carry a cell phone and designate someone to call for help if you need it. Let loved ones know when you are leaving the house and when you expect to be back; call them after you return home.
Healthy Habits – Do some light stretching before you venture out. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, which can affect your balance. Stay active all winter to maintain strength and balance.
“If its bitter cold like it has been and your mailbox is at the end of the drive, don’t go out and get it. Maybe wait a day until it warms up a little bit or maybe ask that neighbor,” Solley said.
Another good idea if you must go out is to carry a bag of salt or kitty litter for traction on icy paths – and slow down. If you need assistance with shoveling your drive, ask your neighbor or a friend.
Many police departments offer services to check on elderly persons in the community. The Area Agency on Aging can help locate those programs and other services available to help during the winter months.