Cape Gazette
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Visiting Angels urges families to ICE seniors' cell phones

In Case of Emergency Safety Campaign aims at safety in cold weather
Jan 14, 2014

Visiting Angels, one of the nation’s largest in-home senior care agencies, has launched ICE, a cellphone safety campaign, to help seniors in case of emergency. To ICE a cellphone, a family member can load emergency contacts in seniors’ phones with the word ICE in front of the names, so when someone finds a senior in trouble they know who to call.

“We urge families to ICE seniors’ phones, or come by our offices and we will ICE seniors’ phones for free,” says Annalise Forman, director of Visiting Angels in Milton. “We care for thousands of older Americans, and we constantly hear stories about how families need an emergency plan for seniors. ICE contacts on a cellphone help responders know who to call in emergencies in this cold or at any time of year.”

How to ICE seniors’ cell phones: Under ‘I’ in the cellphone contact list, load the In Case of Emergency contact names, beginning with the word ICE (ie: ICE_Heather). Make sure the emergency contact(s) agree to be ICE partners. Include every phone number (home/cell/work) of the ICE partner. ICE partners should know the seniors’ medical conditions, doctors’ names and medications they’re taking. Place a Visiting Angels 'ICE Loaded' sticker on seniors’ cellphones, so someone who finds a senior in trouble knows to look for contact information on the phone.

Cold-weather caregivers

Along with ICEing seniors’ cellphones, Visiting Angels caregivers can come to seniors’ homes to protect them from cold-weather dangers. Older Americans can’t feel cold weather shifts like younger people, and they may suffer from hypothermia without even knowing they’re in danger. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than half of all hypothermia-related deaths happen to people over age 65.

Cold-weather caregivers help seniors with outdoor tasks such as shoveling snow and getting the mail. They can help dress seniors in loose-fitting layers before they head outside. High winds, snow and rain can steal body heat. Layers of loose clothing trap air, creating a protective insulation.

Caregivers can also make sure seniors have these items on hand during the cold: emergency radio, essential medications, copies of prescriptions and medical records, extra set of car keys, first aid kit, flashlights and fresh batteries, ready-to-eat foods, stock of water to last three days, heavy-duty windshield ice scraper, and snow shovel.

Experts suggest keeping the thermostat at at least 65 degrees in cold weather months. Sometimes seniors forget to turn up the heat or will try to save money by not turning up the heat.

Caregivers can check doors and windows to make sure cold air is not getting inside seniors’ homes. They can also make sure seniors are using extra blankets, not electric blankets, when sleeping.

Caregivers can also check for hypothermia, which occurs when the body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature high enough. Symptoms mental confusion, slowed reactions, lack of coordination, shivering and sleepiness. The risk of developing hypothermia can increase when seniors have underactive thyroids, diabetes or heart disease, or take certain prescriptions. Some medications that are used to treat anxiety, depression or nausea, or even some over-the-counter cold remedies can increase an older person’s risk for hypothermia.

Visiting Angels provides caregivers from a few hours a week to 24/7 live-in care at affordable hourly rates. Friendly, compassionate angels can offer help with personal hygiene, meal preparation, light housekeeping, shopping, errands and appointments, and joyful companionship this winter and year-round.

For more information, or to schedule a free in-home assessment, call 302-329-9475 or go to visitingangels.com/sussexde.

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