Eldercare Tips for Disaster Preparedness

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Whether your parent is still in an independent living situation or another senior living setting, part of your eldercare responsibilities include being prepared in case of a disaster such as fire, hurricane, flood, or other event.

Here are some eldercare tips for disaster preparedness adapted from the Alzheimer's Association:

Know Your Plan

  • If your parent is still in an independent living situation, map out a plan for evacuation and determine where you and your parent will go for shelter.
  • If your parent is in another senior living situation, talk to the facility and learn about its evacuation plan so that you know what to expect.
  • Be sure to enroll in an eldercare service such as MedicAlert so that your parent can be located during a disaster and so his or her medical information is available in case of an emergency.

Assemble an Emergency Kit

  • Include a few sets of clothing and shoes.
  • If you can, include extra medications or at least a list of medications and dosages along with your parent's eldercare contacts.
  • Pack important documents that you might need such as power of attorney, Social Security cards, insurance records, and extra identification.
  • If your parent is incontinent, don't forget senior living products such as adult incontinence products.
  • Include bottled water and nonperishable foods.
  • Make sure that everything is stored in a watertight container.

If Danger Is Imminent...

  • Take your parent to a safe place, either chosen by you or your parent's senior living facility.
  • Leave town early if you think that there will be traffic and other delays.
  • If you can, stock up on extra medications, oxygen, or any other eldercare supplies your parent might need.
  • Keep family members in the loop about where you and your parent are traveling and staying until you can return home again.

Stay Calm and Alert

  • As your parent's eldercare provider, it's important to stay calm, alert, and reassuring during a disaster, especially if your parent has a memory disorder such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • Regardless of where you are staying, notify key personnel of any health problems of your parent's that may affect his or her behavior or needs at the shelter.
  • Don't leave your parent unattended if he or she has a memory impairment.
  • Be sure to take good care of yourself during the disaster so you can stay calm and reassuring for your parent.

Have you already been through a disaster while providing eldercare for your parent? If so, what tips do you have for other caregivers? Post a comment to this blog, and be sure to sign up for our RSS Feed to receive regular updates about new eldercare topics posted on EldercareABC.com.

--Carrie L. Hill, Ph.D

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