High Winds, blizzards, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires and hurricanes. Crazy weather is effecting nearly every corner of the United States. When a weather event causes a power outage or property damage we become consumed with fixing the damage and putting our lives back together. But what happens when someone lacks the physical or financial ability to make things right again?
This is the case for millions of frail elderly who don’t have the physical or financial support to help them recover from a disastrous event. For those seniors struggling to live independently at home, a simple power outage can increase the risk of falls or injury.
So how can we keep a natural disaster form becoming a health crisis.
Have an Emergency Plan
Every American household is encouraged to have and emergency kit that includes at least batteries, flashlights, candles, water and food. For a senior an emergency plan must go beyond keeping some extra supplies around the house. Healthcare conditions that require special treatments and medications must be planned for. The difficulty is finding people to support a senior in the community, especially when the very same disaster is affecting them.
If you are supporting a senior living at home alone, it makes sense to plan for the inevitable and unpredictable event that could put their independence into question.
Here are some things to consider when developing an emergency plan for a senior you care for.
Make Sure Emergency Kit Is Accessible
Having and emergency kit is good but for a senior, it doesn’t help if you can’t get to it. Assuming the kit has everything it needs (fresh water, unexpired food, batteries etc.) the senior will need to have access for it to be useful. Make sure you plan to have someone go to the senior’s house and set up the emergency supplies for them. That means putting the water where it is easy to reach and placing battery powered lights to light up walking areas. If the senior needs help with meal preparation, set-up a regular schedule of visits to make sure they have something to eat.
Electrical Powered Equipment
Some medical conditions require devices that need electricity. This usually affects seniors that use oxygen concentrators. It is vital to have make sure that emergency oxygen tanks are full and the gauges are working properly. If the device used does not have a power-free alternative, make sure you have a relocation plan ready for the senior in case of a power outage.
Have a Relocation Plan
No one wants to be forced out of their home, even in an emergency. But for seniors a relocation plan should not be overlooked. Establish ahead of time under what conditions a relocation will be necessary. Too hot, Too cold, lack of drinking water or an unsafe environment are all reasons to consider temporary location. Knowing when to relocate is important because any time spent in an unsafe environment increases the senior’s risk for injury.
Inform Local Police and Fire
If the senior you care for has special needs, you may want to inform local emergency personal. Each community has an emergency plan of its own that accounts for its most vulnerable citizens. Informing your local first-responders can help them prioritize emergency services when warranted.
Discuss the Emergency Plan
All too often caregivers make plans and then suddenly spring them on the unsuspecting senior when the time comes. A disaster can be scary enough without a bunch of well-meaning family members rushing in telling a senior they have to leave the house. This is why it is important to discuss any emergency plan with the senior you care for ahead of time. If they know what the plan is they will offer more cooperation. Informing them will help make a stressful situation run just a bit more smoothly.