94-year-old woman dies from complications of hypothermia

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A 94-year-old woman died Thursday, February 6th due to complications of hypothermia after being found unresponsive in her unheated home.

According the medical examiner, May Turtenwald was found unresponsive on her bedroom floor with a core body temperature of 77 degrees. She was found by a family member who was bringing her food.

"That's a tragic situation -- and you know families to their best to try and give their loved ones support," said Ruth Busalacchi, president and owner of SYNERGY HomeCare.

The report indicates that Turtenwald had fallen and was found in her home with the furnace turned off and the gas from the oven running.

Turtenwald died at a hospital shortly afterwards.

Many who care for the elderly are on high alert during the frigid cold weather, taking extra precautions to be sure they are safe. Experts say even if seniors express that they don't need assistance, it's important to check on them during extreme temperatures.

"That face to face is really a critical piece to keeping our seniors safe," said Busalacchi. "If your loved one can't respond appropriately to a fire or a heat loss, or some sort of emergency, they need support."

Busalacchi says support doesn't necessarily mean having to move someone into assisted care -- there are other options.

"Just a small amount of service can make a big difference and hopefully avoid situations that happened today," said Busalacchi.

Another product that may help your elderly loved ones are emergency pendants, which allow a person to press a button if they're in need.