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Cold Weather Companions for Senior Citizens

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

The unusually frigid temperatures have most of us bracing against the cold, and one Georgia company is urging people to watch out for their older neighbors.

Forecasters say the bitterly cold weather many are currently suffering through in the Deep South is coming to an end this weekend, but those who work with senior citizens say even typical winter weather can pose a danger. SYNERGY HomeCare urges younger, fitter people to become Cold Weather Companions during every winter. Co-owner Dan Armstead says most of us can help a local senior, whether they’re a loved one, a neighbor, or a stranger.

“Nearly half of all hypothermia deaths happen to people age 65 and over, and most of these deaths occur right in their own homes because seniors may not necessarily feel the dip in temperature,” according to Armstead. “Hypothermia can start to set in even at temperatures as mild as 60 degrees.”

Armstead says those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s are particularly at risk.

“This is a major concern, Synergy HomeCare has worked with the Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S. to try and help educate people on the dangers associated with extreme cold and somebody with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Three out of four Alzheimer’s patients will tend to wander. There are more than 125,000 searches for missing Alzheimer’s patients every year.”

Armstead says there are steps caregivers can take.

“The easiest thing a person can do right now to help with a senior that wanders is invest in a small GPS tracking device.”

Other measures include covering doors with a poster or painting them to match walls, using motion sensors, window and door alarms, and fencing yards.

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