DENVER -- Recent frigid temperatures are hard on everyone, but the cold weather can be even more dangerous for seniors, which is why advocates are calling for everyone to be a "cold weather companion."
“Snow and ice cause a lot of problems and make us worry,” said Jayla Sanchez-Warren, the director of the Area Agency of Aging with the Denver Regional Council of Governments. "Isolation is a big worry. Many seniors just don’t go out. They won’t go places they need to go like the grocery store or the doctor."
Home care providers see how dangerous the weather can be for seniors, especially those with Alzheimer's or dementia.
"Oftentimes, elders don't realize that their bodies are gradually getting cooler and cooler," said Kim Paul, with Synergy Home Care. "We had a client and we showed up to her house probably around 10 in the morning. She had already been out in her shorts, she told us, shoveling. She didn't realize how cold it was."
Snow shoveling sends thousands of people nationwide to the hospital each year, with injuries from falling, hypothermia and heart attacks, and people over the age of 65 are at higher risk.
Paul said anyone can be a "Cold Weather Companion," checking to make sure seniors' homes have heat, the fridge is stocked, their transportation needs are met and their sidewalks are shoveled during cold or snowy weather.
"A cold weather companion is all of us really that need to keep an eye out, for especially the seniors in our neighborhoods," said Paul.
There is help out there for seniors struggling with the impact of the cold, financial and physical.
"Some seniors are concerned about having to choose between paying for heat or for medication. We have a lot of low-cost and free resources," said Sanchez-Warren. "We partner with churches and volunteer groups across the city."
Call the Area Agency on Aging at 303-480-6700.