Senior centers offer cold-weather health help

Faced with record cold temperatures last week, the Mount Si and Sno Valley Senior Centers made the health and safety of seniors a top priority.

With help from the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club, both centers are handedout Blizzard bags, for times when seniors are stuck at home due to bad weather or slick roads.

Blizzard bags include a few snacks, light sticks and hand warmers.

"It's not a balanced meal or emergency food," said Ruth Tolmasoff, executive director of Mount Si Senior Center. "It's just a few things people could eat that they can store on their shelf in case they can't get out for a day or so."

Encouraging seniors to plan ahead, Tolmasoff and Sno Valley Senior Center's Amara Oden see the bags as a reminder that people need to be thoroughly prepared for the bad weather.

Older people are more vulnerable to get sick or injure themselves during bad weather, Tolmasoff said. People need to dress for the weather, bundle up, and cover their heads when going out in the cold.

"Falling is a huge problem for older adults, and a fall will often be the beginning of a downward spiral to a person's health,"she said.

Oden adds that science has shown that, thanks to continued exercise, people who are more active are able to recover faster from colds or are less likely to catch one.

Sno Valley Senior Center also made flu shots available earlier this year.

Always encouraging people to avoid risks in icy conditions, senior centers either tell people to stay home or to utilize their transportation services.

Center staff are more than happy to help seniors with errands by taking them back and forth to the store in their center buses.

Both centers also offer daily hot meals.

For people 60 years and older, meals are free with a suggested donation. What's important, Tomlasoff said, is that seniors come and eat.

• Contact the Mount Si Senior Center at (425) 888-3434 or SnoValley Senior Center at (425) 333-4152.

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