Protecting senior citizens during extreme cold

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 7, 2015) -- During this ice cold snap, officials say you need to remember to check on the elderly.

"They are more vulnerable," said Nina Carr, a caregiver with Home Instead Senior Care.

When it's this cold, even if you make a phone call or two, you need to check on your elderly neighbors or loved ones.

"What would be even better if you could go over and pay them a visit, knock on the door, make sure that everything is going okay and that the environment in that home is proper," said Mike Newman with HISC.

They say you should make sure seniors have a week's worth of food and something to drink, make sure their thermostat is set to at least 65. Also, shovel their sidewalk or put down some rock salt.

"They still like to get to their mailbox themselves, we wanna make sure they're gonna be safe. Hopefully they've got a mailbox that's right on the porch," Carr said.

HISC says seniors account for nearly half of all hypothermia deaths because as the body ages, keeping a normal body temperature is more difficult in colder weather.

Hypothermia symptoms to look out for include shivering, memory loss and slurred speech. A person with hypothermia may also feel drowsy and should get to a hospital immediately.

If you're checking on your elderly friends and family, make sure to find out if they've paid their electric and heating bill. Indiana has the phone number 2-1-1 which can offer help to pay those bills and other services that may help in this cold weather.

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