Help for the elderly paying heating bills in E. TN

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- Every year, hypothermia kills about 600 Americans, half of whom are 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is times like this when the mercury drops below freezing that it's most important to help a neighbor.

Most of you will stay inside, but inside can be just as dangerous for the elderly, so make sure you check on them.

Volunteer TV's Lauren Davis has more.

Betty Cox is a senior citizen in Knoxville who dreads the warmer weather because her heat bill rises and says, "I hate to see it this month."

The cold weather causes many senior citizens to look for alternate ways to keep their electric bill down.

Cox says, "Wear sweat shirt and sweat pants and turn the heat down."

This is exactly what the Office on Aging says you should not do.

Marie Alcorn says, "A lot of seniors to conserve energy turn temperatures down low in house and it's not a good thing."

Not a good thing because the elderly are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, when the body heat drops below normal for a prolonged period of time.

Even mildly cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in older people.

Alcorn says, "Seniors might not realize they're in trouble until it's too late."

You can help the elderly out there who live nearby.

Alcorn says, "We really encourage neighbors to go by and visit to see if they're fairing well in weather."

In weather like this local agencies are going that extra mile to ensure elderly safety.

Alcorn says, "Many volunteers are calling seniors checking on seniors meals on wheels are checking on elderly."

You can help too by checking your your elderly neighbors and family members.

The Office on Aging reminds the elderly the power company will not cut off your electricity if you can't pay your heat bill.

There are also programs out there that can help you pay for your bill if you can't pay them.

Because heating costs are high, the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services has funds to help low-income families pay their heating bills.

In Knoxville, you can call the Office on Aging for help at (865) 637-6700 for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program.

For more help, you can contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program at 1-866-674-6327 or the Eldercare Locator 1-800-677-1116.

For more information, you can also click the link below.

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