Your elderly mom still lives alone in the countryside, and a winter Nor’easter is forecast with copious amounts of snowfall anticipated in its wake. You live over 30 miles away, and it could be days before you reach her if those ominous predictions hold true.
Is your aging mom prepared to survive an emergency of this magnitude? Disasters strike with little or no warning, including hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, floods and fires. When you’re serving as a caregiver for an aging loved one who’s still living at home, it’s vital to have a preparedness plan in place before a disaster, and not after. To help put your mind at-ease, while ensuring the safety and security of your senior loved one, follow these guidelines.
What to Consider Beforehand
At-home seniors with limited mobility and/or early onset dementia have special daily care requirements that must be met. These include bathing, meals, transportation, medications, essential medical supplies, and more. If you live far away, notably in another state, it’s difficult to address those care-giving needs under normal circumstances, let alone during a disaster. In the event one hits, utilities, telecommunications, transportation and food shopping can all be disrupted for days, or even weeks. An emergency plan must be devised that guarantees continuity-of-care for your elderly loved one. There may also be times when a senior is forced to evacuate their home, which further complicates the planning process.
Devising Your Disaster Preparedness Plan
First, think about what types of disasters are most likely to impact your loved one. If it’s a winter storm, for example, envision the after-effects and what will be needed to survive. Sometimes you’ll have several days of advanced warning, but there will be others when it may only be a few minutes, or hours. In general, include these in your disaster preparedness plan:
Emergency Preparedness Kit
Your mom should have a transportable kit in her home with at least a 3-day supply of nonperishable food, bottled water, flashlights, cash, batteries, blankets, a transistor radio, medications, personal hygiene products, and extra house and car keys. To assist rescue workers, copies of important personal documents, like a medication and health conditions list, family contacts and birth certificate, should also be included. Place these items in labeled lightweight waterproof duffel bags or containers on wheels.
Identify Local Resources
You and your parent should have in writing the phone numbers and addresses of emergency resources in her community. This list should include shelters, hospitals, police, fire department, utility companies, and her insurance agent. Discuss with mom who to call in different scenarios, notably if communication with you gets cut off. Program the emergency numbers into mom’s cellphone “contacts” list.
Devise an Escape Route
Talk with your mom about escape routes within the home, like during a fire, or outside of it when an evacuation is ordered. For the latter scenario, you should have a rendezvous point that all family members know where you can meet later, such as an emergency shelter. You and other family members should also be listed in mom’s phone as “ICE” contacts.
Consider Her Individual Needs
Does your mom need a walker, wheelchair or oxygen? Make sure you place waterproof ID labels on all medical equipment that she uses. Personal documents should be easily-accessible for her to take along in case of an evacuation, including the deed to her house, insurance policies, driver’s license, doctors’ names and phone numbers, and more.
Invest in a “PERS”
A personal emergency response system, or PERS, features a wearable device that can be used by a senior to call for help, or that allows emergency personnel to track their whereabouts, even outside the home, using GPS technology. You can also install a GPS tracker on mom’s Smartphone and monitor her location from yours.
Don’t Forget Pets
Include mom’s service animal or pet in your disaster preparedness plan, along with their food, water and medications. Their vaccination records should also be in her preparedness kit, and all animals should have ID tags.
We Keep At-Home Seniors Safe During Disasters
All home care agencies must now adhere to disaster preparedness standards set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that ensure continued care for seniors during an emergency. At Cranberry Home Care, we are completely CMS-compliant, and have protocols in place to address the care needs of at-risk seniors that include continuity-of-care, meals, transportation, keeping them calm and comforted, communication with seniors and their families, and even looking out for their pets and service animals! Our CMS-certified aids are all highly-trained for all kinds of emergencies, and stand ready to deliver the reliable care your loved one needs no matter what disasters come our way. To learn more about senior disaster preparedness, or the family-trusted, senior in-home services Cranberry Home Care delivers in the Southeastern Massachusetts area, visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now.