In times of emergency, the motto “Be Prepared” is a valuable one.  In addition to the standard items on an emergency checklist, like nonperishable food, water, first aid kit, blankets, and more, for those who are, or live with/near a senior, there are a few provisions that need to be thought about when preparing for an emergency or natural disaster.  

  • Medical Equipment.  Many seniors have medical equipment which they are dependent upon in their daily lives, such as wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen, etc.  In an emergency, it is essential that one has all of their medical equipment with them, as most emergency shelters will not have those items on site.  Also, if you or a loved one has mobility issues, it is imperative to make a plan of how they will evacuate an emergency situation.
  • Visual Aids.  For a senior who is blind or vision impaired, it may be of great value to put an extra cane near their bed, as well as a well-placed whistle near their bed or another often visited spot in the home.  By having these objects nearby, an individual can more easily maneuver a scenario, and call out for help.  Also, if you loved one is visually impaired, please remind them to move about with extreme caution, as during emergency situations items may have moved around and normal exit routes may be blocked.
  • Hearing Aids.  If you or a loved one is hard of hearing and requires the use of hearing aids, ensure that extra batteries are stored with all of their emergency supplies.  Also, hearing aids should be stored in a senior’s nightstand to ensure quick access during an emergency.
  • Medications.  Individuals should have a minimum of a week’s supply of all medications.  These medications should be located in an easy accessible location.
  • Essential Paperwork.  It is important for everyone, especially seniors, to have a copy of their IDs, as well as other essential paperwork, like medical cards, insurance information, etc.  Placing a copy of all of these essential documents in an envelope and storing it with all emergency supplies is an easy way to ensure that you or a loved one has all of the items that they may need in a natural disaster or emergency situation.  
  • Communication Plan.  The creation of a clear communication plan is essential for all families during any emergency situation. You and your loved ones may not be with each other, phone lines may be down, the internet may be disconnected, but you will still need to know where to meet and how to get a hold of each other.  Make sure that EVERYONE knows and understands the communication plan.  For elderly family members, it is advised to write down the plan and keep it an envelope with their other essential paperwork.

These provisions are critical guidelines to ensure safety for all seniors in emergency situations.  In addition to the precautions listed above, also remember to make sure that your senior family members know where their emergency supplies are located (including the first aid kit), and that you remain calm (which will help ease the concerns of the elderly members of your family, especially if they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s).  

If you or a loved one receives in-home care or lives in an assisted living facility, be sure to speak with a company representative prior to any emergency to see what their emergency/natural disaster policy is, and then inform your loved one of the policy.

An emergency situation does not have to become a disaster if a few simple steps are taken prior to any possible event.  For the elderly, there may be a few more items to take into consideration, but those extra steps will ensure the best scenario and greatest level of safety for the individual.