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Tips for Mitigating Winter Risks Facing Colorado's Oldest Residents

Seniors are at greater risk of injury shoveling snow, and it is also common for people to experience heart attacks from over-exertion. (FEMA)
Seniors are at greater risk of injury shoveling snow, and it is also common for people to experience heart attacks from over-exertion. (FEMA)
January 24, 2019

DENVER – With some of the coldest air of the season moving though the state, service groups are reminding Coloradans to look out for the elderly – whether they're a loved one, a neighbor or a stranger.

Dale Elliott is the division director of aging and nutrition services for the Volunteers of America's Colorado branch. Volunteers and staff with its Meals on Wheels program deliver food, and check in to make sure seniors are OK.

Elliott says it's important to get to know your neighbors, and don't be afraid to ask if they could use some help.

"Be aware of what those needs are, be a good neighbor, don't be afraid to call and actually make a referral for your neighbor,” he urges. “We get referrals from neighbors a lot of times for our seniors to get on the Meals on Wheels program."

Elliott adds that people also can sign up for Volunteers of America's Snow Buddy program, where volunteers shovel sidewalks if more than two inches fall.

He says older residents are at greater risk for heart attacks from over exertion, and they also run the risk of falling on ice and breaking a bone.

Families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's also should take extra precautions in winter, says Tom Yetzer, owner of Synergy Home Care of Denver.

Three in five Alzheimer's patients wander outside, and Yetzer says a GPS-activated wrist band can help ensure they're not exposed to frigid temperatures.

"I would highly recommend researching,” he states. “There's some great options that can allow you to not only identify when they have wandered from their home, but actually easily find them."

The folks at Synergy are encouraging Coloradans to become a Cold Weather Companion, a program where volunteers check in on seniors to make sure their homes have heat, the refrigerator is stocked and prescriptions are filled.

To help out with Volunteers of America, visit VOAColorado.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO