Storm season can take a toll on all of us, even when you do not live directly on the coast. When summer arrives, most of us have hurricanes and tornadoes in our mind. Both these events are some of the most powerful and violent natural disasters on Earth. While tornadoes can be sudden with little warning, hurricanes can be as big as an entire state and wreak havoc with prolonged heavy rain and flooding. Add in the loss of electricity for days or weeks, and it’s easy to see how storm season can be quite deadly.
Being prepared and having a plan before a storm of any kind hits can make all the difference – especially for aging adults and those with significant long-term care needs. Whether you are a senior or are caring for a senior loved one, it is critical to design a plan well in advance of a crisis. Especially when approximately one in four Older Americans suffer from some type of physical impairment.
One course of action can be for seniors to stay with family or friends who are not in an affected area. When time is short, however, this may not be possible. If that’s not an option, then a hotel is also a good place to go. Depending on you or the senior’s needs, however, you may need to make advance arrangements to stay at a healthcare or long-term care facility equipped to provide the medical care needed during the crisis.
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No matter what the situation, safety is of the utmost concern. Here are some tips we share with our family, friends, and clients for how seniors and their loved ones can plan ahead:
- Seniors, or their caregivers, should create a network of neighbors, relatives, and friends to aid them before, during and after a hurricane. Everyone should know how to operate the senior’s medical equipment and understand the basics of their medications. Everyone should know who the senior’s health care decision maker is and how to contact him or her in a crisis.
- If a senior is mobility impaired and living on a floor above ground level, make sure they have a safe way to exit the home.
- Keep medically specialized objects ready in case they have to leave on a moment’s notice. These can include extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medications, among other important items.
- Keep a list of the exact type of medical devices needed and their model numbers.
- Make sure to identify prescription medications that need to be refrigerated. Hurricane season spans June through November, encompassing the hottest months of the year. Talk to doctors and specialists now to ensure enough medication is on hand in the event of an emergency.
- Many Older Americans require oxygen. Check with local oxygen providers about any emergency plans they offer seniors.
- Aging adults sometimes require respirators, many of which require electricity. If electric power is needed to run critical medical devices, it’s important to plan ahead and consult with your physician about possible non-electric options. Loss of power is one of the most dangerous aspects of hurricane fallout.
Do not wait for a crisis to occur to plan. Often, it will be too late. Use these tips to get started but talk to us about the planning you need to ensure you and your loved ones are safe during storm season and beyond!