Keeping seniors safe in frigid temperatures

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- “It’s a lot different than when our summer heat is 70 degrees,” says Jennifer Schimmelpfenning, of Synergy Home Care in Kimberly. “It’s not good if they would fall any time, but if they would walk out and fall and it’s 70 degrees, we don’t have to worry about hypothermia.”

We’re all trying to stay warm in such frigid weather, but experts are reminding us to keep an eye on the seniors in our lives, too.

Action 2 News reached out to home care facilities this week where experts say they often seen an uptick in calls this time of year from seniors needing extra help in such cold weather.

“They may have their house extra warm, because a lot of times they do that,” Schimmelpfenning says, “and then if the put their coat on and a hat and think, 'Oh, I'm dressed warm enough,' and they go out and it's a 30 below wind chill, they're definitely not ready for that weather.”

In such chilly weather, they often see seniors forgetting to dress appropriately, slipping on the sidewalk, or even being too afraid to go outside at all.

“I think being fearful of going out is probably the biggest concern,” says Meredith Hansen of the Aging-Disability Resource Center in Brown County, “especially when it comes to if we have any precipitation and it freezes and forms ice outside. ’Can I walk safely? How long can I last in the cold?'”

Whether seniors have forgotten to zip their jackets or are keeping their house temperature a little too low, experts say it’s important to frequently check in on your elderly neighbors and loved ones.

“If you would see your neighbor walk out and they didn't even have a hat on, or scarf, or if their coat didn't look warm enough, it would be a good thing for you to go out and check on them,” Schimmelpfenning says.

When checking up on your loved ones, experts also remind us to be mindful of medication that may have the side effects of reducing body heat. In addition, use alcohol in moderation.

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