Town of Mansfield, MA, Council On Aging, 255 Hope Street, Mansfield 02048 Phone: (508) 261-7368 Fax: (508) 339-4886

News for December 2016






The Council On Aging will close on Friday, December 23rd at 12:00 PM and will be closed on Monday, December 26th for the Christmas holiday. There will be no programs or transportation services during closure times and no meals on Monday, December 26th. Please plan accordingly. return to menu

In a recent study published the New England Journal of Medicine, it is estimated that there are about 1,500 deaths caused each year from hypothermia. Hypothermia, a dangerous medical condition, is caused when the core body temperature falls below 95° F. Many times, those who are suffering from hypothermia, are unaware that they are, and may become seriously ill within a short period of time. Hypothermia is classified in stages: mild, moderate and severe. Symptoms are

    • Mild—shivering, rapid heart rate and respiration, increased urination and confusion
    • Moderate—low body temperature, violent shivering, lack of coordination, slow movements, confusion, pale skin and blue lips, fingers, toes and/or ears and combativeness
    • Severe—decrease in heart rate, respiration and blood pressure, difficulty speaking and thinking, amnesia, loss of use of hands and severe lack of coordination, inability to walk, irrational behavior and incoherence and tendency of victims to undress and burrow into small spaces. It is estimated that up to 50% of all deaths cause from hypothermia are associated with undressing, which increases the rate of heat loss. Death from hypothermia is usually due to cardiac arrest.

Hypothermia is caused by many different factors, although the primary cause is from improper exposure to low temperatures. Factors which compromise health and contribute to hypothermia are improper clothing, immersion in cold water, age and health conditions, chronic medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia and sepsis, substance abuse, mental health conditions which impair judgement, poverty, living in a cold environment and anorexia. To prevent illness from hypothermia

    • Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Synthetic and wool fabrics are better than cotton fabrics, since their warming and insulating properties are superior. Clothing should be loose fitting and worn in layers, and hats, gloves and warm socks should be worn when outside;
    • Alcohol is a vasodilator, and causes the body LOSE heat. Do not drink alcohol when outside in the cold;
    • If clothing becomes wet during cold exposure, change into dry clothing. Heat loss is quicker when wet than when dry. Death from falling into cold water can happen in as little as two minutes due to shock!

If you suspect that you or someone you know are becoming hypothermic, seek medical attention immediately. Emergency and medical personnel are trained and equipped to successfully treat hypothermia, and it is advisable to not ignore symptoms.return to menu

It is that time of year again when the weather becomes an unpredictable hazard, and coming to the COA, or going outside anywhere, presents a challenge to all of us. The Council On Aging would like to remind all who are in our community of our inclement weather policies.

    • When Mansfield Public Schools are closed due to inclement weather, all programs and services at the COA are cancelled. However, the COA is usually staffed during regular business hours, even during most weather emergencies

    • When all other COA programs are cancelled, the Home Delivered Meals program through Bristol Elder Services may also be cancelled

    • If school start time is delayed because of inclement weather, COA programs and services may also be delayed. When in doubt, please call the COA to determine program closings

    • If COA programs are cancelled for the day due to inclement weather, medical transportation through Bill’s Taxi may still be operational. If you have a medical ride scheduled through Bill’s Taxi, please call them at 1-800-529-8294 for the status of your ride

    • As with all weather emergencies, safety is of primary importance. If it is unsafe to go out, please stay at home until the weather and travel conditions improve!

    • If you are in need of help, do not hesitate to call 911! Mansfield’s emergency response team is there to help!

Please call the COA for questions or concerns about these policies at 508-261-7368. return to menu

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sponsors a food supplement program for seniors age 60 and older and individuals who are under the age of 60 and are disabled and meet certain eligibility requirements. The Senior Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a way individuals on a fixed income can stretch their food dollars. The monthly benefits are accessed through a special debit card which is issued to the individual once eligibility is determined. Project Bread, a non-profit organization in Massachusetts, assists seniors with an over the telephone interview for the application process.

Staff in the Mansfield Council On Aging Outreach Department is able to help with completing applications for this program. Because SNAP is state and federally funded, certain requirements must be met in order to be eligible. Points to be aware of include:

    • SNAP benefits are based upon individual income, and sometimes there is an asset test. Benefits are available whether a person lives alone, in private or public housing, shares a residence or has moved in with family

    • Out of pocket medical expenses of $35 a month or greater count against income as medical deductions, increasing the benefit amount. The greater medical expenses are, the greater the benefit will be

    • For most SNAP applicants, assets are not counted, and the home you own is never considered an asset in this program

    • Use of the SNAP debit card is discreet, and users are assigned a PIN to help protect those benefits

    • For most older people, certification for eligibility is done every two years. Once and individual is accepted into the program, 24 months of eligibility is guaranteed until the next certification for another 24 months of participation.

Participating in SNAP is a great way to help meet household expenses by adding food dollars. To complete a SNAP application, please call the COA to schedule an appointment with Linda, Beverly or Lynette at 508-261-7368. To complete and over-the-telephone application, call the Project Bread Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. For additional information, please visit SNAP on the web at return to menu

Bristol Elder Services Nutrition Department would like to remind seniors that eating healthy is one of the major ways to promote heart health, and overall health. A diet high in fresh, non-processed foods, and low in sugar, salt and fats, is the best to help lower blood pressure.
Diet recommendations are:

    • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat free or low fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish, and beans, eggs and nuts. These foods are lowest in fats and sugars, lower in calories, and packed with nutrients. Limit the amount of foods containing sugars and saturated fats.

    • Limit the consumption of sweetened beverages and alcohol. Alcohol use raises blood pressure and adds unnecessary calories which contribute to weight gain. In the United States, sweetened drinks account for about 1/2 of all sugars consumed! Added sugars promote insulin resistance, which could lead to diabetes.

    • Some fats are healthy to consume. Unhealthy fats are those which are saturated and trans. Saturated fats occur naturally in foods, and are found in fatty meats, whole dairy products, cocoanut and palm oils and butter. Trans-fats are found in products those which have oil processed through hydrogenation. Trans-fats are most often found in processed sweets, coffee creamers, flavored pop-corn and margarine. Healthy fats are those which are omega 3 fatty acids, poly and mono unsaturated. Healthy fats reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, while saturated and trans-fats increase the level of triglycerides in the blood. Omega 3 fatty acids, poly and mono unsaturated fats are those which are found in avocados, corn, olive and safflower oils, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, beans, peanuts and soy nuts.

For more information about nutrition and a heart healthy diet, visit and return to menu