Check in with your senior citizen friends and neighbors during w - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Check in with your senior citizen friends and neighbors during winter weather

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More than half of the weather-related deaths in Tennessee have been from hypothermia, many of the victims are also senior citizens. Volunteers with Meals on Wheels are making home checks this week, visits that could save a life.

"Yeah we have a couple people that we're always concerned about because of heat issues, health issues, and being by themselves," said volunteer Lenny Simpson.
     
Simpson has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for the past seven years, and during the winter months that also means checking in to see if the seniors are safe and warm.

"I had one today say, hey I can't get ahold of my family," Simpson said, "And that's sad when you hear that."
     
Along Simpson's route is a visit with 81-year old Velma Shoemake.

"I don't know what I'd do without it," Shoemake said, "I'd go hungry I guess!"
     
Luckily Shoemake is prepared. She has portable heaters in the living room and bedroom to keep warm.

"I'm a tough old bird.," Shoemake jokes.
     
But she does live alone, and is glad she has a daily visitor in case something goes wrong.

"Yeah it makes me feel good that they do that," Shoemake said.

Simpson says although they serve more than 400 senior citizens, volunteers can only check in on the people they know of.
     
He's hoping neighbors are willing to help the rest.

"Even if you don't know them that well," Simpson said, "It only takes a couple minutes out of your day to go over and say are you alright, is there anything you need?"

As Channel 3 found out by calling around to different local agencies, not that many groups take on the responsibility to make home checks if temperatures are below freezing, unless they get a concerned call to do so.

So it's even more important for neighbors, friends and family to make those daily calls and visits to check in with a loved one.
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