Second Winter Wallop Puts Local Seniors at Risk “Cold Weather Companions” help seniors survive the dangers of winter
By Mel Fabrikant Thursday, January 23 2014 @ 06:02 PM EST
A blast of mind-numbing cold air is coming, and unlike the legendary polar vortex, this dip in degrees is going to linger for a long time. Extreme winter weather leaves thousands of senior citizens homebound and vulnerable. With the ice and snow piled up across almost a third of the country, many seniors can’t even open their front door, let alone get out on the dangerous, icy roads to get to the pharmacy, the grocery store or the doctor’s office.
That’s why SYNERGY HomeCare, a leading national non-medical in-home care company, with an office in your area has created “Cold Weather Companions” to help seniors get the help and companionship they need this winter. Caregivers are working extra hard to help seniors stay safe, keep their pantries stocked, prescriptions filled and cope with cabin fever.
“When severe winter weather hits, seniors can feel trapped, frightened and alone. We’re asking our caregivers to go above and beyond to be Cold Weather Companions,” says Rick Basch, President of SYNERGY HomeCare. “We already assist seniors with daily tasks, but now many of them will need even more help. No matter how difficult it might be, we are committed to providing the resources they need.”
SYNERGY HomeCare “Cold Weather Companions” Initiative
Besides driving seniors to the grocery store and the pharmacy, caregivers also:
• Arrange for ice and snow to be cleared from steps, walkways and driveways – falls are the leading cause of death by injury for Americans over age 65.
• Make sure the heat is on at least 68-70 degrees – Every year, hypothermia kills about 600 Americans, half of them seniors. Some seniors don’t feel temperature drops because of dementia or medication that can affect awareness. Seniors are also concerned with high heating bills and don’t keep their thermostats at the proper temperature.
• Play games, rent movies, get books from the library to keep seniors engaged – seniors can suffer from depression in winter, which can be aggravated by medication and feelings of isolation that come with being trapped indoors.
• Prepare meals, monitor diet, and make sure seniors are drinking plenty of water – seniors who can’t get to the grocery store may not be eating properly. Seniors get dehydrated much quicker because their bodies contain less water. During winter, they also don’t eat or drink as much so they take in less liquids.
• Monitor medication intake – keeping prescriptions filled and providing reminders to take medication is vital to staying healthy during extended periods of inclement weather where trips to the pharmacy and doctor are more difficult.
• Help with mobility. The cold weather may cause joints to be stiff, making it hard for some seniors to move around the house. Caregivers can be there to assist and prevent falls.
“If you have an older family member or even a neighbor who lives on their own, find a way to make sure they are safe and prepared for the cold,” says Basch. “If you can’t be there, hire one of our caregivers to go in and check on your elderly loved one. This simple act of kindness can save a life.”