When it comes to disasters, senior citizens and children are at the highest risk. Their vulnerable health and higher level of need makes it difficult for older adults to get through a devastating event. If you live with or love a senior citizen, these tips will help you include them in your disaster preparedness plan.
Be Prepared to Check
First and foremost, have a plan for someone who will be designated to check up on your senior loved one in the days after an emergency. If you have a designated individual, then you will have confidence that someone will be able to take care of this for you. Make sure the designated contact person has a copy of any important keys so they can access the older adult’s home if it is locked.
Talk About the Plan
Talk about your disaster plan with your older loved one. Make sure they know where the emergency supplies are and what should be done in the event of an emergency. Write down important steps and your evacuation plan, if needed, to ensure everything is remembered.
If your older loved one has hearing or vision loss, your plan should include a way to ensure they are aware of alerts. Someone who can’t hear well may not hear tornado sirens, while someone who can’t see well will not see alerts on the news. Structure the home so that some sort of alert is visible if there is an issue, or make it a goal to call your loved one and encourage them to seek shelter and protection when needed.
Switch to Electronic Payments
For older adults who receive Social Security, electronic payment options are the best choice to ensure they continue to receive their income even if they are not at home. Sign up through the U.S. Department of the Treasury at godirect.org.
Add to Your Emergency Kit
If you are building an emergency kit for a household that includes older adults, consider adding items like:
- Extra batteries for medical equipment, like hearing aids.
- Extra bottles of all medications, with a medication schedule printed out.
- Personal hygiene items unique to the older adult.
- Mobility equipment that is needed to get around safely.
- Copies of Medicare cards, insurance policies and other important documents.
- Important contact information – do not rely on memory during a disaster.
In addition, make sure that medications are refilled on the first day they can be, rather than waiting until the individual is out of a prescription. This should ensure you have the medications you need during an emergency, even if you cannot get to the pharmacy.
Once you have your emergency kit, make sure you have a plan for rotating through the items it contains. You should rotate the items every six months to ensure they stay fresh and healthy to use.
Register with the Special Needs Registry
Some states have a special needs registry for those with specific types of disability. That registry is used to ensure that disabled individuals have the care and alerts they need in a disaster. Research these options in your area, and register your loved one if they fit the criteria.
Caring for an older adult during an emergency situation requires careful planning and a little forward thinking. With these additional supplies and tips, you will be well prepared.