Preparing Seniors for Natural Disasters

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Most people never consider what they will do in the event of a natural disaster. If they have aging parents, they may not have considered what will happen to them if an emergency strikes to put their loved ones in harm’s way. Now is the time to formulate a plan. Adult children should coordinate with each other and their parents on where they will go and how they will get there. Discussing it when there is no pending threat and everyone is calm is more practical than a flurry of last minute phone calls. If there is a senior home care professional involved in the daily activities, make sure that they are involved in the plan as well.

Location It is always easier when someone lives nearby, but this is not always the case. Designate a family member, neighbor or the in home healthcare provider to make sure they are ok and are able to evacuate if necessary. If they are in an assisted living facility, find out what the evacuation plan is and determine a way to contact someone there in case of a natural disaster.

Types of Threats Be familiar with the types of natural disasters that are possible for that geographic area. For example, someone on the coast should be aware of hurricane preparedness. Tornadoes and flooding are possible in any area that experiences rainstorms. Earthquakes are common in some areas, but check to see whether your parent is living near an inactive fault line. It could become active again.

Preparedness Kit Every home should have a natural disaster emergency preparedness kit. This should include a first aid kit, bottled water, a non-perishable snack, a change of clothes, emergency contact information and at least a week’s worth of medication. Consider a spare set of medical supplies, such as a blood pressure cuff or blood sugar monitor for serious health problems.

Mobility Keep in mind how easily the senior can get around. They may not be able to move unassisted. They may be confined to bed. If they use a wheelchair or walker, make sure that they can enter their destination and that transportation will accommodate the assistive devices.

Relocation Should the senior parent lose their home even temporarily, a plan should be in place for where they will go in the short term and also if the displacement lasts more than a week or two. Determine how they will get there and who will look after them from Point A to Point B. For a widespread disaster, this location may be affected as well. Have a contingency plan in place.

By: Jeremy Smith

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