RALEIGH — In extreme weather, both older people and those who look after them can face risk.
Alan Winstead, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Wake County, said that during big storms, the agency sidelines the 125 to 150 volunteers who typically take meals to older people throughout Wake County.
In addition, the nonprofit follows the practice of checking on anyone who is at special risk from low temperature and possible power outages. The Meals on Wheels staff has a list of people to call, typically those who live alone and don’t have a strong local support network.
Older people at risk for hypothermia, in which body temperature drops below normal for prolonged periods. Their bodies’ response to cold can be diminished by illnesses such as diabetes and by some medicines, according to the National Institutes of Health. Older people may be less active and generate less body heat.
“Fumbling, mumbling, stumbling or grumbling” are signs of hypothermia.
“If there’s somebody in your neighborhood who you know lives alone, just check on them and make sure they are OK,” Winstead said.
The National Institutes of Health suggest taking the temperature of someone who may be suffering from the cold. If the person’s temperature is 96 or lower, call 911.