KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With the cold to blame for at least two East Tennessee elderly deaths, local authorities are urging neighbors to keep an eye out for senior citizens.
The Knox County Sheriff's Office says since Monday, they've heard from 12 callers needing elderly assistance.
6 News spoke with seniors who live on their own and say they appreciate helpful neighbors.
Wanda Evans, 68, says when the weather gets bad, she's not able to get out much.
"Well I don't mind the cold, but slick roads I'm not going to take," Evans said.
To help get by in the winter, she keeps her kitchen full of food.
"My kids say if we ever run out of food, they are going to come to Mama's pantry because I've got it stocked full," Evans said.
She also relies on her neighbors for help.
"They've always said anytime you need anything, all you've got to do is let us know," Evans said.
Evan's boyfriend Herb Wittke stops by nearly every day. In his eighties, he also lives alone. He says it's important to call your elderly neighbors, or better yet, go check on them.
"They want to stay single, or stay helpful by themselves, but still want somebody to give them a little attention, and that's what works," Wittke said.
Susan Long is the director for the Community Action Committee's Office on Aging. She says when temperatures drop, her office is slammed with phone calls.
"Often times people do refuse help from their friends and neighbors. They don't want to be a burden. They're embarrassed to ask for help, but you know the house is too cold or they don't have meals," Long said.
Long says what usually works best is to stop by with a gift of food in hand.
"If you show up at the door with a casserole and some food and say this is a gift from our family to yours, then they probably will accept it," Long said.
She says many senior citizens are in need of portable heaters. More information on how to help can be found here.