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National Preparedness Month: Senior Emergency Planning

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


September 12, 2019

National Preparedness Month is all about preparing for disasters—natural or not—before they happen. Seniors especially need assistance during emergencies because they aren’t as agile and healthy as younger individuals. Don’t wait for disaster to strike; be proactive, and plan ahead.

The National Council on Aging estimates 80% of adults 65 and older have at least one chronic disease. Disabilities and chronic diseases are both factors when it comes to preparing seniors for emergencies because they each require specific kinds of support. If your loved one has diabetes, they need regular insulin shots administered. If they use the assistance of a wheelchair, that may require a specific vehicle for transportation. 

Preparing seniors for emergencies starts with creating a personalized plan.


Senior Emergency Plan

Hurricane season is in full swing this September with news updates about Hurricane Dorian flooding the media last week. Were you prepared? Natural disasters are less nervewracking and more manageable when a plan of action is in place to follow for senior safety.


Create a Support Network

A collaborative effort of friends, family, and neighbors should be in place to assist seniors in the case of an emergency. Establish a communication process before, during, and after an emergency. Identify people who live close and far away to get in contact with your loved one. A team effort helps in case the designated support person cannot assist for one reason or another.

A neighbor is an ideal contact person for older adults who live alone to provide quick, nearby assistance and even regular check-ins. For situations where phone lines and power is out locally, identify a family member who lives farther out to get in touch with them. Include how the distant contact person will reach your loved one if home phone lines are down; cell phones prove to be helpful in these kinds of scenarios. 


Establish a Transportation Plan

In the event of an evacuation, establish a transportation plan. Decide who is responsible for checking in and how will they communicate with your loved one. Determine how they will assist your senior to leave and arrive safely at a nearby shelter. Work with neighbors if you don’t live close enough to help. If your senior lives in assisted living housing, make sure you know what their process is and where they will transport tenants. 

Do they need special care? Make sure to specify all of your loved one’s medical needs on a care form for easy access in the case of an emergency. Creating a plan of action before a disaster helps streamline the process of getting your loved one from point A to point B, safely. If evacuation is not necessary, creating an at-home emergency supplies kit is essential.


Assemble an Emergency Kit

Emergency kits are a great way to prepare seniors for emergencies in their own homes. Relying on outside support from others can make seniors, especially those who live alone, feel helpless. Stocking their homes with supplies gives seniors a way to feel secure in place in the event of a disaster.

In general, the kit should consist of ample food, water, medical supplies and devices, daily medication doses, batteries, chargers, pet or service animal needs, and important documents—such as the medical card mentioned below. For a more detailed list of items to include in an emergency supply kit, read our blog on preparing seniors for severe weather.


Complete a Personal Medical Card

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has created an editable, PDF medical information card for seniors or their caregivers to fill out online and print to keep on hand. Include assistive device styles and serial numbers as well as service animal instructions.

Make copies of Medicaid, Medicare, other insurance cards, ID’s, and additional medical documents to keep on hand with your completed medical card. Documented information provides easy access to emergency responders and caregivers about important details regarding your loved one’s health needs at all times. 


How Can Home Care Help?

Emergency preparation can be an anxiety-inducing conversation, but at Commonwise Home Care, our caregivers make it easy. Putting a plan in place will prove to be immensely helpful in the long run to avoid last-minute stressors. Our caregivers are trained professionals who are prepared to handle anything from daily activities to weather-related, medical, or other emergencies. In home care can assist seniors in the planning process to give them confidence in the case of a crisis.

Senior care support is also available for everyday needs, such as meal preparation and medication monitoring, as well as companionship. Our caregivers provide compassionate care and respect to those we serve. Home care management services provided by a professional caregiver gives you and your loved one(s) peace of mind; our priority is caring first.

For more information on the Commonwise Home Care difference, call 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.