It is hurricane season here in Houston, Texas, which means that many people are thinking about ways they can prepare should disaster strike. Preparation well in advance of an actual emergency situation is key for getting through even the toughest situations. For caregivers of older adults, it is even more important to develop a plan.
The Federal Emergency Management Association has developed a preparedness website, Ready.gov that offers plenty of suggestions for making sure that you and your family are ready. Here are some of the key points that caregivers of older adults should keep in mind when developing their preparedness plan.
If your loved one receives federal social security checks, consider an automatic payment method instead of the paper checks through the mail. Direct deposit into a bank account or payment on a prepaid debit card can eliminate the worry about losing a check in the mail, or being displaced form home and not having access to mail. This method also eliminates the risk of checks being stolen.
Share the Responsibility
As a caregiver, you probably already know what it means to develop a strong support network. Preparing for a disaster is no different. You’ll want to make sure that each member of your caregiving team: healthcare professionals, family members and neighbors know what the plan is for handling a disaster. Make sure that everyone on the team has contact information for all team members, and that there is a detailed plan for who is calling whom to share information during the situation. The network plan should knowledge of where emergency supplies are kept at your loved one’s home, and duplicate keys to allow access.
During a disaster situation, it might be difficult to access doctors or pharmacists easily. You can take a few steps ahead of time though, to ensure that your loved one has the medication he/she needs. Keeping daily medications organized in a pill planner box on a regular basis can help prepare for a situation in which you need a week or more of medications. One tip is to fill prescriptions on the first day eligible, rather than waiting until the supply runs out. That way there is always a buffer of extra medications for use during an emergency.
Make sure that your loved one has copies of important documents saved with their emergency supply kit. These can include financial, family records, wills or deeds, tax information, etc. It’s a good idea to also keep a copy at a separate location, like your home if you live elsewhere, or at a neighbor’s home. Keep the papers in a water-proof container. Medical information like prescriptions, dosage of medications, allergies, doctors’ names and insurance information can also be stored in an online personal health record for added security.
Have a Kit
In addition to a plan of action, you’ll want to stock your loved one’s home with a robust emergency preparedness kit. Here’s a list of items to consider including:
- Water: one gallon per person per day for at least three days
- Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget the can opener if you have cans!
- Radio: battery-powered or hand cranked so you can use it when the power goes out
- Extra batteries: for the flashlight, radio, and any other battery-operated devices
- Battery operated phone charger: smart phones are super helpful if they’re charged, but otherwise a waste
- First aid kit:
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to filter contaminated air
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Local maps
- Supplies for any pets: food and water