“SkyDance and Snow” – photographed by volunteer Chris S.
We thought winter was over, but then we remembered that we live in Oklahoma! By looking out your window, you can probably tell that winter weather is back. Hopefully not for long. But, while the winter weather is here, learn how you can assist your elderly family members, friends and neighbors as they face the cold.
The cold temperatures brought by winter storms are harsher on the elderly. Our low income home owners have a difficult time paying for higher utilities during cold seasons. They will endure the cold to save money, which can lead to major health issues. The Office on Aging reports, “Among the elderly, those most likely to develop hypothermia are the sick, the frail, the very old, the poor who can’t afford enough heat, and those medically vulnerable individuals who do not know how to keep warm when exposed to the cold.”1
Jennifer Tapner, a registered nurse and executive director of the Watermark at Logan Square, a continuous-care retirement community, recommends that elderly keep their thermostat at a minimum of 70 degrees. “Cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in older people,” Tapner says.2
In addition to making sure their homes are kept warm, you can help senior citizens by getting them ready for emergencies, checking in on them at least once a day, and encouraging them to dress warmly. Each elderly homeowner should have an emergency kit including a flashlight, blanket, nonperishable foods, water and a first aid kit. This will be useful if the home loses power. Most importantly, let them know you care and be available in case of an accident. Together we can endure the weather!