Local agencies teaming up to protect elderly during outages

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As thousands in West Michigan have spent days without power, local agencies are scrambling to keep some of the most vulnerable safe and out of the cold.

Power outages can become dangerous for anyone. But for the elderly, an outage can carry severe consequences.

"They're at an increased risk because of a decrease in body fat, poor coordination, poor vision and other things (like) medication side effects," said Korona Houston with Pax et Cura Living in Grand Rapids.

Ken Cook says he does more than deliver food on his Meals on Wheels route — some days he saves lives. For one of his 82-year-old clients, Friday was that day.

“Think of people: relatives, neighbors, friends. This is terribly cold weather, and I don't even know if the power company knew she was without power,” Cook said. “If we hadn't delivered today, I don't want to think about what could've happened.”

Earlier Friday, Grand Rapids police, fire, paramedics and The Rapid teamed up to move over 100 people from a nursing home that had lost power this week.

As temperatures drop, filled medications, heat and food should be part of a checklist to ensuring the safety of an elderly loved one.

"It's really important for loved ones to have communication, be it ‘do you need groceries,’ ‘do you need anything that we can do to help them out,’" said Tammy Walsh wish Alliance Home Health Care Services.

Being proactive during weather conditions like what West Michigan has experienced the last couple weeks can be as simple as dropping by to check in on an elderly neighbor or loved one — and that first step could help save a life.

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