4 Ways for Caregivers to Prepare for Natural Disasters | LuciLife

4 Ways for Caregivers to Prepare for Natural Disasters

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4 Ways for Caregivers to Prepare for Natural Disasters

No matter what part of the country you live in, there is always that one particular season that can ravage a community.  From hurricanes barreling through the Southeast, to wildfires and earthquakes disrupting lives on the West Coast, there is always the threat of a natural disaster.  To ensure the safety of you and your loved ones, it’s always important to have a plan in place.  However, special attention needs to be paid for caregivers in charge of senior loved ones.  

In an emergency, seniors may not be able to move or evacuate as quickly as their younger family members, they may have trouble navigating hazardous conditions such as high winds, shaky ground, smoky air, or torrential rain.  Also, seniors may need special consideration to ensure they have the proper medications and access to clean water in case of an emergency.  Here are a few ways that as a caregiver, you can help ensure the safety of your loved ones during a natural disaster:

 

  • Have a Plan in Place:  During a natural disaster, emotions can run high and stress can take over.  This is why having a plan in place for both you, your loved one, and your family can be crucial during this intense time.  Have a plan for both staying put and evacuating.  When making a plan, keep in mind any medical conditions that could hinder mobility or long travel times, as well as where you and your family could go and the easiest way to get there.  Ensure your household knows the plan so that when disaster strikes, you are all on the same page.
  • Easy Access to Medical Needs: With chronic illnesses and conditions comes devices such as catheters, oxygen tanks, walkers, feed equipment, meters and monitors, and assistive technology.  In the event of a national disaster, it’s important to have easy access to the necessary medical equipment and medications.  Assign a family member to gather all necessary medications and equipment in case of emergency and ensure that each member of the household knows where all necessary equipment and medications are located and which are needed the most.

LuciLife Senior Emergency Prep

  • Pay Attention to Nutrition:  During stressful situations, it’s easy to let good nutrition slide by grabbing a bite or two here and there and drinking water when you remember. While the average healthy adult could live like this for a couple of days, this approach isn’t a good one for your more vulnerable family members.  Many seniors have dietary restrictions or chronic illness controlled through diet like diabetes, digestive distress, and heart disease.  This means planning shelf-stable foods that fit into your loved one’s nutrition plan, as well as ensuring they are still taking in proper amounts of water.  Dehydration is more common in the elderly and also more dangerous with more vulnerable populations.
  • Have a Knowledgeable Support System:  As a caregiver, you know what your loved one will and won’t eat, what medications they need to take when, what medical conditions require special attention, and how to generally provide medical and emotional support for them.  However, during a natural disaster, you may not be able to provide that support for multiple reasons like being separated or being injured.  Train family members or neighbors in your loved one’s routine and medical needs in case you aren’t able to provide the care they need in an emergency.  Make sure they know:
    • Dietary restrictions or aversions
    • Medication timing, dosage, and administration
    • What medical devices (like oxygen tanks or catheters) are needed and how to use them
    • Where medications and medical equipment are kept
    • Where important information (such as insurance information, doctor’s contact information, and government identification) is kept
    • How to tend to physical needs and if they help performing tasks such as bathing, eating, sitting or standing, and walking.
    • The best way to provide emotional support and companionship

 

For more information on being a support system for your loved ones, be sure to check out our LuciLife Caregiving Resources.