Loren Genson and Kiera Manion-Fischer | The Gazette
With snow piling higher and subzero temperatures expected next week, groups that work with seniors are reminding family and neighbors to keep an eye on the elderly.
For seniors, it’s important to arrange for a daily check-in, either with a friend, neighbor or relative, said Sean Parker, an Aging Disabilities Resource Center coordinator at the Medina County Office for Older Adults.
The Medina County Office for Older Adults serves 170 meals daily to homebound seniors and drivers check in on the residents when dropping of the meals.
Parker encouraged seniors to wear extra layers, even indoors to avoid heat loss, and add extra blankets to the bed at night. Rest and water are also important, he said.
“Fatigue makes you more vulnerable to the cold,” he said.
Parker also encouraged seniors who may be cold or hungry to attend local meal service sites to get a meal provided by his agency and warm up among other seniors. To make a reservation for a senior meal, call (330) 723-9514.
Home Instead, which has a location in Wadsworth, made the following suggestions for seniors and their families this winter season:
• Stay warm. Those 65 and older account for nearly half of hypothermia deaths.
• Keep your thermostat at least at 65 degrees to stay warm.
• Minimize drafts by filling old socks with sand and using them against drafty windowsills and door jams.
• Add an extra blanket to the bed at night.
• Dress in layers of loose, fitting clothing.
• Prevent falls. Each year, 1.6 million seniors end up in the emergency room because of a fall.
• Take a couple of minutes each day to stretch your limbs in order to loosen muscles.
• Stay inside and make arrangements for someone to shovel and salt your driveway and walkway.
• Wear shoes or boots with a non-skid sole.
• If you use a cane or walker, make sure the rubber tips are not worn smooth.
• Build a network. Stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors. Schedule phone calls or enlist the help of a professional caregiver for one hour a week.
• Make arrangements for assistance in case of a blizzard or power outage. Keep important numbers in an emergency kit, along with non-perishable foods, water and medications.
Seniors aren’t the only ones who may need extra attention when the weather drops.
Pets often need extra care, and their time outside exposed to the elements should be limited in extreme temperatures.
Dr. Robert Nathan, a veterinarian at Sharon Center Veterinary Hospital, said there are a few extra precautions pet owners can take to make sure their animals are safe in the cold weather. He said wiping your dog’s feet and stomach can remove snow and salt that can irritate your pet’s paws.
“If your dogs spend a decent amount of time outside, make sure they have access to fresh, unfrozen water and make sure they get food that is rich in protein,” Nathan said.
Owners also should keep a close eye on cats that go outdoors. When temperatures drop low, it’s best to keep cats inside and warm. In low temperatures, outdoor cats can sometimes get into the fan belt of cars to keep warm.
“We do sometimes see cats with fan-belt injuries and they can be quite painful,” he said.
He also recommends anyone who changes their anti-freeze makes sure to clean up any residual anti-freeze left on the pavement or in the snow. The liquid has a sweet taste for animals and they may try to drink it.
He also recommends animals not get groomed too short because that layer of fur can keep animals warm during the winter.
“It’s certainly OK to add a sweater to keep your animal warm,” he said.
The U.S. Postal Service reminds residents not to forget about clearing snow near mailboxes.
“If we cannot reach your mailbox, we cannot deliver your mail,” said Melvin J. Anderson, USPS Northern Ohio district manager.
“Painted porches and steps can be especially hazardous. While salting and rubber-backed mats help, we rely on residents to clear the snow. If there’s a warm spell and the melting snow puddles, a quick freeze can make a sidewalk slick again.”
Residents who receive delivery to roadside mailboxes also must keep the approach to, and exit from, the mailbox clear of snow along with vehicles, or trash cans or any other obstacles.
“The carrier needs to drive in, and then out, without leaving the vehicle,” said Anderson. “The area near the mailbox should be cleared in a half-moon shape to give the carrier full visibility.”
Anderson urged residents to watch for slow-moving postal vehicles, carriers on foot and children at play near mailboxes or snow banks.
“And don’t zip by neighbors who are clearing mailboxes or collecting their mail,” he said. “Let’s all stay safe.”