County residents are encouraged to check on their elderly neighbors to make sure they are safe during periods of severe weather.
When weather circumstances dictate, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging and its contracted providers contact frail, isolated and high-risk consumers who are registered for care management with the agency. Care managers respond to emergency needs as they arise to make sure that the seniors are safe and stable.
"In addition to routine contacts and the delivery of some holiday gifts, during cold spells like the one we are experiencing, care managers visit the homes of those at the highest risk levels and make sure each home is well heated and that there is enough food, water and medication in the home to last for several days," said Mildred Morrison, administrator, DHS Area Agency on Aging. "It is also important that the elderly person have a list of emergency telephone numbers that includes neighbors and family members who can help, if needed."
The Area Agency on Aging has already delivered 2,450 "Snowy Weather Boxes" to at-risk older adults who are registered with the agency and often live alone. The boxes include toilet paper, a blanket, hand sanitizer, flashlight and batteries, peanut butter, graham crackers, tuna, fruit, juice, bottled water, and other shelf-stable meals and drinks. To meet emerging needs and crises, additional supplies have been placed in community agencies contracted with the Area Agency on Aging to provide care management and meal delivery services.
"Because not all of the older adults in Allegheny County are registered with the Area Agency on Aging, we are suggesting to anyone who may know of an older person living alone, particularly someone who is frail, please take the time to visit him or her," said Ms. Morrison. "If the house feels cold, make sure the furnace is working. Become alert to dangerous methods of heating a room, such as open flames or ovens being used as a heat source. Also, make sure there is food and water in the house. And, if at all possible, go back later or the next day to make sure everything is still alright."
Information about programs and services for older adults is available by calling SeniorLine (TDD/TTY 412-350-2727) or by visiting the DHS website at www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/olderadults.aspx.