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Preparing an Elderly Loved One for a Hurricane

Posted: 9/12/2018 10:37 AM by Interim HealthCare

Planning in advance offers peace of mind and pays off when a storm hits.

An impending hurricane is worrisome enough for most people. But if you have an aging parent you help care for, you need to worry about their preparedness as much as your own. And advance preparation is indeed the name of the game.

Experts recommend these steps.

Put a help network in place
Multiple agencies including FEMA and Ready.gov from the Department of Homeland Security recommend creating a support network of willing-to-help neighbors or friends who can assist your loved one during an emergency. Make a list of their phone numbers; keep one copy at your house and put the other somewhere handy in your parent’s house.  

Go over hurricane-related planning with these contacts so they know what to do if you are unable to help. Make sure they have a key to your parent’s home.

If your parent has a home aide, check with the agency to learn what procedures they have in place in the event of a major storm or natural disaster.

Create a hurricane kit
When a hurricane is in the forecast, or preferably well before, create an emergency kit. The American Red Cross recommends stocking it to last three and five days. The kit should be easy to carry (think backpacks or duffle bags) or on wheels. Put an ID tag on each bag with your contact information and your parent’s. Label any medical equipment, such as canes or walkers, with your parent’s name and contact information.

Make sure friends or neighbors who volunteered to help in an emergency know where the kit is.
The kit should include these items for starters:
  • Water, one gallon per day, either a 3-to-5-day supply for a shelter or a 2-week supply for a home kit
  • Canned or dried food that doesn’t require cooking
  • A manual or battery operated can opener
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • A battery operated or hand crank radio
  • A weeklong supply of medications
  • Medical supplies
  • Sanitation and hygiene items, including toilet paper and plastic garbage bags
  • Copies of important personal documents, including medication lists, deeds or leases, birth certificates, insurance policies and personal contacts
  • Extra cellphone or e-reader chargers
  • A whistle
  • Additional sets of keys to house and/or car
  • Entertainment options such as books, crosswords puzzles, playing cards
  • A small supply of cash or traveler’s checks
  • Extra contact lenses or glasses
  • A blanket
These are just the basics. Ask yourself what supplies your parent needs on a regular basis — oxygen, catheters, batteries for a wheelchair or hearing aids, etc. Check with suppliers and/or your parent’s doctors about getting extras.

Check the supplies in the kit every six months and replace anything that’s expired. This is also a good opportunity to review, reevaluate and practice evacuation plans.

Research special emergency shelters
Find out the location of the shelter nearest your parent in case evacuation to a shelter is needed. If your parent requires special care, research special-needs emergency shelters in their area. Registration for these shelters is required in advance so transportation can be arranged.

A doctor may recommend that a hospital or nursing facility is the best option instead of a shelter. If so, the doctor should give your parent a pre-admission letter to a specific facility. Include this letter with the important documents in the evacuation version of the preparedness kit. Doing this in advance will help with insurance claims.

Make plans for the pet
If your parent has a pet, figure out what to do with the animal if your parent has to evacuate, since many emergency shelters don’t allow pets. Research pet-friendly hotels or animal boarding facilities. Create an emergency kit for the pet, too. Ready.gov has recommendations on how to put together a disaster kit for a pet.

Set up direct deposit
Disasters can disrupt mail service for who-knows-how-long. Ready.gov recommends that seniors sign up to receive their social security payments or other federal benefits electronically instead of by paper check, especially if they depend on these benefits. Seniors can sign up online or call (800) 333-1795 to set up direct deposit into a checking or savings account. This can make a huge difference in the event of an emergency.

Major storms can be dangerous and frightening. Advance planning is the key to weathering a storm safely and easing stress for both you and your parent when a potential hurricane looms.