Emergency Disaster Preparedness for Seniors

Text Size: A A

posted by Ted Ryan on June 19, 2013

In the wake of the recent natural disasters across the Midwest, many of us St. Louis area residents are abandoning the “it can’t happen to me” attitudes that we once held and are realizing the importance of emergency preparedness.

It’s particularly important for seniors to have a plan in place, as they may be frail and require help reacting to a disaster. Friends and family should ensure that their loved ones are properly prepared – especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, who cannot be expected to plan for, react to or spot warning signs of a disaster.

Generally, there are three steps to effective preparation:

1.  Become informed

  • Learn the risks that your community faces and the best ways to respond to them. Recently, tornados and flooding come to mind, but also think about events such as fires, earthquakes, extreme heat or power outages.
  • Meet your neighbors and build a support group. Make sure they are aware of any special needs. At SHC, we are an engaged member of that support group – keeping up-to-date records of client needs and emergency contacts.
  • Establish an out-of-area person to act as an emergency contact in the event of limited local phone service. Make sure that loved ones know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Know the location of the shut-off valves for gas, electricity and water utilities, and how to turn them off, if necessary.
  • Locate a well-suited emergency shelter and how to get there – including the route and means of transportation – in the event of an evacuation order.

2.  Prepare an emergency supply kit

This kit should always be ready for an unexpected disaster and should include:

  • Water for at least three days
  • Non-perishable food for at least three days (and hand operated can opener)
  • Medications for at least three days
  • Flashlight
  • Portable radio
  • Spare batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Cash or travelers checks
  • Contact list with names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses

3. Make a Personal Plan

Once you have gathered information and prepared your supplies, you can complete a personalized emergency response plan. Identify all of the senior’s special needs and how they will be met.

It’s also important to have a medical summary sheet. This is especially true regarding those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who cannot provide needed information for themselves. This sheet should be kept in the senior’s residence and wallet. Things to include in the medical summary sheet are:

  • Names and contact information of the senior, doctor and family or emergency contacts
  • Current medications being taken (and the pharmacy where they are filled)
  • Medical conditions
  • Health history records
  • Type and model of any medical devices used

We can’t prevent disasters but we can prepare. The National Family Caregiver Support Program offers a detailed preparation outline that includes checklists and well organized medical summary sheets.

At SHC, we prepare emergency plans for all of our clients. Through ongoing nurse visits and communication with client families and caregivers, we maintain an up-to-date care plan to ensure that our clients’ needs are met at all times, in all situations. If you need help with the preparation process, contact us, we’re here to help.

Post Tags

Community Connection and Safety

Join the Discussion

Seniors Home Care reserves the right to remove anything deemed inappropriate, off-topic or otherwise questionable; however, we have no responsibility to do so.