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Elderly Surviving Cold Weather

January 23, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Elderly Surviving Cold Weather
SISSETON, SD -

Wind chill warnings and blizzard conditions have been the norm this winter in the state’s far northeast. Groups are doing what they can to help the elderly.

Waking up to dangerous conditions outside his door is something Buddy DeCoteau has come to expect in Roberts County. If he can help it, he doesn't want to feel it.

"When it's cold like this, usually I just stay home because of my health," DeCoteau said.

Family members check on him and he sees tribal workers often throughout the week as well. Programs the tribe has set up for the elderly that run throughout the year are very important during a harsh winter.

Rita Finley is acting manager of the Elderly Nutrition Program. Workers deliver meals weekdays to elderly tribal members. She says delivery drivers make sure those receiving meals are doing O.K.

"It is dangerous out there," Finley said. "We've got to make sure that they're warm and got heat, water and their medication."

If workers observe problems, Finley says they can contact people who will help.

At tribal headquarters, workers at Elderly Affairs visit homes every week. They work on housekeeping and hygiene, run errands and even offer some healthcare services that will allow the elderly to stay home rather than venture outdoors.

"The nurses come in and they do their blood pressures or whatever," Donna James said.

DeCoteau says he's thankful for all the extra care.

"When it's cold and below zero, it's hard on the elderly," DeCoteau said.

Help from family and others, he says, makes winter weather a little easier to bear and a lot less dangerous.

Managers at the nutrition program say workers visit up to 120 homes of elderly tribal members on a given day.

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