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Homebound on the Coldest of Days
By Beth Shapiro, Executive Director
January 3, 2018
The new year began with frigid temperatures – the kind of cold that gets in your bones. This weather can be especially dangerous for older people whose bodies don’t regulate temperature as well. Many of our meal recipients complain about feeling cold even on seasonable days, so when extreme winter weather hits they often need more layers and extra care.
This winter, Citymeals asks New Yorkers to check in on their frail aged neighbors. Many of them are not mobile or healthy enough to take the proper precautions for severe winter weather. You can help by:
- Checking to make sure they have food on hand, including milk, bread, soup, and a source of protein
- Make sure the heat is on and working
- If they use any space heaters, make sure there are no potential fire hazards, such as blankets, curtains or upholstered furniture in close proximity
- Ask if there is sufficient hot water for bathing
- Make certain they have blankets to keep warm at night
Health experts advise older people and their caregivers to look out for any dangerous side effects of the cold, such as: chills, a drop in body temperature, breathing difficulties, dry or chapped skin, stiff joints and muscles, headache, numbness in the extremities, weakness and fatigue. If an elderly person exhibits any of these symptoms, or if confusion sets in, call 911 for help immediately.
And while some of us find a winter storm exciting, it can cause older people additional stress. They may be concerned about losing power and worry about how they'll get out for groceries.
All year long, Citymeals works with community-based organizations and senior centers to ensure the 18,414 frail aged New Yorkers we serve never have to go a day without a meal. We do this in a number of ways – from providing Emergency Food Packages at the start of the winter season to delivering extra meals before a snowstorm hits.
Our staff and volunteers take emergency preparedness seriously so that older New Yorkers can relax and enjoy a snow day too.