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Reaching isolated seniors

April 3, 2014 |

I would like to ask our neighbors to be a “good neighbor” as the winter drags on with cold days and seemingly endless snowfall. While spring is now technically here, the long winter months can be challenging for everyone, but particularly for the elderly who may not have strong family or community support. The ravages of winter can bring havoc to a budget with higher fuel costs, limited socialization due to icy walkways and roads, and limited sunlight can bring seasonal affective disorder. These and other conditions may bring changes to a senior’s wellbeing and one who is isolated may not be fully aware of their situation or community supports to assist them. We need your help to reach out to those who might require the services of fuel assistance, home delivered meals, home care, or other supportive programs. If you would look to those in your neighborhood or family for these potential red flags: • Wearing excessive layers of clothing in the home. Perhaps they cannot afford to heat their home? Insufficient heating within the home during the cold months can result in hypothermia – a serious threat. • Apathy, confusion, lethargy, and slurred speech are symptoms of hypothermia as the core body temperature drops. • Curtailing regular shopping trips or lunch with friends, which can be an indication of financial crisis or depression. • Unshoveled walks and driveways can create a “prison” for a senior and keep others away. If you have concerns about the wellbeing of a senior, you may wish to stop by with a plate of cookies or a casserole and an offer to sit and chat. In casual conversation the senior may express fears or concerns they are dealing with, or you may mention assistance from their local Council on Aging. If you have serious concerns about a senior or do not know them well enough to make a personal visit, please call your local Council on Aging (COA), the Longmeadow Adult Center, at 565-4150. The COA outreach staff member can make a wellness check to determine the status of the senior. Please remember, there are those who choose to live a more solitary existence. This is their right. However, if there is a senior in need, it is a kindness to help link them to available services in the community. Emily Perkins Director, Longmeadow Adult Center

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