Checklist: Emergency Planning for Seniors

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In addition to the standard supplies of nonperishable food, fresh water and first aid equipment, if you have an elderly or disabled relative living with you or nearby, there some precautions to consider when preparing for natural disasters and emergency situations.

  • Wheelchairs: If your parent is in a wheelchair or has mobility problems, plan for how he or she will evacuate. If they use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair on hand as a backup.
  • Durable medical equipment: Most emergency shelters do not have durable medical equipment available on site. You must bring your own. This includes therapeutic oxygen, walkers, rollators,
  • Visual aids: For a loved one who is blind or visually impaired, keep an extra cane by their bed and attach a whistle to it. Remind your parent to exercise caution when moving during or immediately after an emergency, as paths may have become obstructed.
  • Hearing aids: Individuals who are hearing impaired should keep extra batteries for hearing aids with emergency supplies. Store hearing aids in a container in the senior's nightstand so they can be located quickly after in the event of an emergency.
  • Have ID information on hand for the elderly person as well as copies of relevant emergency documents, including evacuation plans and an emergency health information card.
  • Talk to their doctor about stocking up on a week's supply of all their prescription medications.
  • Make sure elders know where the first aid kit and emergency supplies are located.
  • Establish a communication plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another. Keep in mind that internet and phone lines may be down for some time.
  • If your relative has Alzheimer's or dementia, know that even cognitively impaired people oftentimes have an innate understanding that something is wrong. Remain calm during an emergency. Explain what is happening clearly and simply, but don't expect them to remember specific details. Validate their concerns, but provide clear direction without condescending or losing patience.
  • If your elderly parent lives at home alone and receives assistance from a home healthcare agency, find out how they respond to an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
  • If your relative lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility, check their website for updates and 800-numbers that are typically established for communication with families.
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3 Comments

I thought it was going to be at home emergencies like a fall, forgetting, loosing things, fear and panic times; etc. I think a list like that would be good.
Marlo Sollitto, thank you for an excellent list. This is something I need to talk to my parents about as they still live in their single 3 story home and are in their 90's. I've been trying to suggest to them that they move to a really nice 55+ senior community where they would have their own large one level apartment, but they won't budge. This list might be food for thought.... or maybe not. Worth a try.
this article makes me realize that I am SOOO much more important to my Mom & Dad, who live within walking distance, than my out of state siblings, I am not trying to boost myself here, but just realizing, the local caregivers are really the ones who are on call 24/7/365 and especially for emergencies! even my own kids know, if there is a big emergency, we will not abandon Grandma & Grandpa. We have made our plans to include them "come hell or high water" because they are part of our family!