55 PLUS - Get ready, get set — chill out at home

When the weather outside is frightful, stay by the fire that's so delightful. But be prepared to stay in.

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Even though it's the middle of the holiday season, it's not officially winter yet. But we've already had some cold weather and snow. You may want to give some thought to making sure you, your loved ones and your neighbors are prepared for the rest of the winter.

Take a look around the house and make sure there's a healthy supply of canned goods, juice and easily prepared foods on hand. With a good supply stocked up, if the weather gets bad you don't have to venture out. But if you are homebound and unable to do that you may be eligible for Meals on Wheels, home delivered hot meals from the Senior Roundtable at the Center at the Park. It's a very popular program.

"Our numbers are up and increasing," said Howard Ostby, nutrition director of the Senior Roundtable. "But our drivers are handling it. If you are 60 or older and homebound you are eligible." There is a home visit and assessment to determine eligibility. "We deliver hot meals, Monday through Friday and on Friday we can send frozen meals," he explained. If driving and getting out there is not an issue, and you want to meet in a social setting, the Center at the Park offers group meals for a low cost. You can get out of the house, get a nutritious meal and talk with some new people as well.

According to Ostby, the time for the group meals has been expanded, now it's from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate more people. "That way, if the roads are icy, you don't have to push it. There's also Valley Transit that stops right in front of the Center and Dial A Ride." There's a suggested $3 donation for a meal.

Volunteering with these and other activities at the Center at the Park can also be something that gets you more involved with others. You can have fun and work on a project to help others in the community.

Make sure you've got a snow shovel at home and an ice scraper for your car, it could have gotten misplaced or played with by the grandkids. Ostby said to be careful taking that first step out the door when it's iced over or snowy until you get your balance and get used to the winter conditions. "Be careful out on the streets, keep your front steps cleaned off and use sand or gravel."

"If the weather is going to get bad, think about bringing in extra food. Then you don't have to worry about it, you can relax. Be proactive, have a plan. It's a good time to enjoy doing some cooking. Just be careful of turning on heaters, keep them away from papers and things. Make sure you've got good boots with good traction," Ostby said.

If you or a loved one needs help, Seniors Helping Seniors, a licensed home care agency, can help with a variety of concerns. The agency employs seniors to assist other seniors. "Sometimes it's the littlest of things that makes a difference in a person's life," said owner Duane Cinnamon. The company provides assistance in whatever amount the recipient needs, maybe a small task or maybe something more involved. Often, in the winter many will need transportation services, if you don't want to drive in the snow and you need to go to a doctor's appointment or shopping. Or maybe help shoveling snow. Often some light housekeeping is needed, winter comes and you've got company coming." Sometimes it's just a little bit of help that's needed for a senior to feel more secure.

Volunteer Chore is another way to get a little bit of help at home if you need it. "One of the big needs right now is going to be the snow removal," said Tim Meliah, Director. If eligible, a senior can receive assistance with a whole range of tasks, such as light housework, and yard work.

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

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