"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

This winter, record-breaking arctic temperatures are sweeping across the United States, creating conditions which the National Weather Service calls life threatening. This is creating a crisis for our neighbors who struggle to properly heat their homes, especially senior citizens.

“We find that older adults aren’t as aware of a drop in body temperature,” says Chrissy Kistler, a geriatrician and physician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, speaking to the AARP in January. “As we age, the body’s ability to regulate temperature naturally declines. Older adults with hypothermia, for instance, may not shiver much or at all.”

How can you help?

Be a good Samaritan for those at risk around you, especially seniors.

If you are able, provide practical help like shoveling their sidewalk or make sure they have groceries so they don't need to attempt to go out themselves. To limit the risk of falls, those with limited mobility or conditions such as osteoporosis should take care to avoid icy patches while out and about, Kistler says. And because cold weather forces your heart to work harder, she says that those with heart conditions should be particularly mindful of strenuous activities such as shoveling snow.  

Make sure they are warm enough. Even inside their homes, lower temperatures can be hazardous for older adults since they are susceptible to developing hypothermia in houses that aren’t properly heated. The National Institute on Aging recommends keeping the thermostat set between 68 and 70 degrees at the minimum. Kistler says it’s also important to stay bundled up, and that two or three thin layers of clothing are more effective at keeping you warm than one thick layer. (Also be mindful, she says, of the risks of heating aids like electric blankets, which can cause burns, and space heaters, which have been linked to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.)

Support Catholic Charities as we help at-risk seniors around us. Thanks to gifts made by you over the holidays, many people have heat today. But there are still more neighbors struggling and winter isn’t over. Make a gift today and help us keep our neighbors warmer through this life-threatening cold spell. Your donation helps Catholic Charities provide utility bill assistance to those in need. Every day, requests for help pour into Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities wants to help everyone in need, especially vulnerable populations like children, veterans, and seniors.

With your help, we can ensure that all our neighbors have access to the water, gas and electricity that are necessities of life. Your help is urgently needed; please consider donating today at




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