Elder care during weather extremes

By Bethany Royer

January 28, 2014

By Bethany J. Royer

Staff Writer


PIQUA — As temperatures continue to hover in single digits a number of concerns comes with it, including the health and well-being of the elderly during such extremes.

When asked how operations at Easter Seals Adult Day Services Piqua was doing at this time, Michelle Caserta, program coordinator II, states they have had to cancel or delay transportation a few times this month. The service provides activities and daily meals as respite care for families and care givers of the elderly in the community.

“Since the majority of our participants use our vans for transportation, if we don’t run they don’t come in,” said Caserta who’d prefer to err on the side of caution when determining whether to run transportation vans due to potentially unclear sidewalks or driveways that pose a greater risk of slipping or falling. “Also, with the extreme frigid temperatures we have been seeing, some people not bundled up appropriately.”

Stating it is better to have a fragile elderly population safe inside where it is warm, Caserta offered tips such as making sure elders have food, running water to avoid frozen pipes and are not shoveling snow.

The Ohio Department of Aging offers similar tips while urging Ohioans to check on older loved ones and elderly neighbors during severe weather. Tips include checking for adequate heating and whether heating devices being used pose a fire hazard or carbon monoxide poisoning. Or making health assessments such as adequate medication and food supplies, and whether local family or caretakers are available in case of an emergency, with access to a phone even with a loss of power.

Unfortunately, due to department downsizing, the local police department no longer offers routine senior checks, says Bruce Jamison, chief of police, however, there are many private options for alerting family or medical aides for in-need seniors.

“So, rather than trying to maintain a program making us the primary agency for checking-in, we encourage use of equipment or other systems for those most likely to need it, and use social media to encourage neighborly behavior when it seems most important,” said Jamison further explaining that citizens who pose a risk of wandering can utilize Project Lifesaver as this type of weather could result in death.

The police department maintains control of the battery for Project Lifesaver to make sure the transmitter is working properly at all times, with an officer having changed a battery for a client Monday evening.

The department is always available to take welfare check calls on seniors, either via a paid alarm service or after a call from a concerned neighbor due to lack of activity or failure to answer a door.

Meanwhile, cold shelters have continued throughout the extreme weather and during the week though not every day can or has been covered. The Bethany Center, 339 South St., has a cold shelter on Tuesday nights only with the Congregational Christian United Church of Christ, 421 Broadway St., for Thursday night, and Church of the Nazarene, 400 South Sunset Drive, on Friday night.

Fortunately, the extreme single digit temperatures begin to let up today with a near balmy 40 degrees-plus into the weekend.

Bethany J. Royer may be reached at 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall