Tornadoes Spur Families to Review Disaster Plans

Deadly tornadoes ripped through the midwest this past weekend. 81 tornado reports were issued in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and in Ohio. The hardest hit was Illinois, Caregiverlist’s home state.

FEMA urges the families of elderly Americans, especially those with medical issues and limited mobility, to review, update and rehearse their disaster plans. And emergency disaster kit is a great idea so that if a disaster strikes, those most vulnerable will be confident they have what they need to “ride out the storm.”

Your disaster emergency kit (care of the FEMA) should include the supplies to last at least three days:

  • Water: at least one gallon per day per person for drinking and sanitation;
  • Food and utensils: foods that are ready to eat and not quickly perishable are ideal;
  • Blankets and extra clothing;
  • A first aid kit, including medical insurance and Medicaid cards;
  • A battery-powered radio and/or a NOAA weather radio;
  • A flashlight with extra batteries;
  • Prescription medicines: These should be rotated frequently and kept up to date;
  • Medical supplies: an extra pair of glasses, hearing-aid batteries and any other personally needed medical devices;
  • An emergency contact list: to reach family, friends and emergency numbers;
  • Extra cash: access to banks and ATMs may be limited for a time.

Your disaster plan should also include a choice of below-ground shelter if the senior lives alone. Make sure disaster preparedness is a question on your checklist if you are looking into choosing a nursing home for your loved one.

The American Red Cross reminds affected residents to return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so.

They should also:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes.
  • Avoid fallen power lines or broken gas lines - immediately report them to the utility companies.
  • If someone smells gas or hears a hissing noise, they should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department
  • Use flashlights, not candles when examining buildings.

After a disaster, seniors especially can fall prey to scam artists looking to take advantage of the misfortunes of others. Look for legitimate assistance for services through your family member’s State Agency on Aging.

Consider hiring a Home Care Agency if you live a distance away from your senior loved one, so that someone is nearby and is ready to help.

Our hearts go out to those who lost family, friends and homes during these unexpected severe storms. If you’d like to help, you can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

Earthquakes, Tornadoes Highlight Need for Senior Disaster Preparedness

The San Francisco earthquake and recent tornadoes that tore their way through the Midwest are grim reminders of how quickly we can fall victim to natural disasters. Seniors often find themselves especially vulnerable. Perhaps they live alone and family is not nearby to help ensure their safety. They may become confused and panic without a clear plan of action. The time to map a strategy and lay in supplies is before they are needed.

The American Red Cross has published a handy document entitled, “Disaster Preparedness For Seniors By Seniors.” Written by a group of seniors who experienced a two-week power outage after an ice storm hit upstate New York, the booklet addresses the disaster planning tips for seniors with varying degrees of limitations. Whether the older adult is healthy and agile or limited in physical capabilities, everyone should take the necessary precautions and make plans to prepare for any emergency.

The Red Cross Disaster Plan has three main components:
  1. Build and Maintain a Kit: Designate a duffel bag as the go-to kit for three days worth of survival essentials. This would include water, non-perishable food, flashlight and batteries, a first-aid kit and medication, and some cash and coins. The Red Cross list is extensive but it covers all possible needs.
  2. Make a Plan: Planning ahead reduces anxiety if disaster strikes. Designate a family member, friend orcaregiver to be a point person to check in during time of disaster. There should also be an out-of-town contact person--someone who won’t be directly affected by a local event. Plan evacuation routes and meeting places if friends and family cannot be reached.
  3. Be Informed: Assess your community. Tsunamis do not occur in Ohio, but home fires can happen anywhere. Investigate what plans the community has in place and where they offer shelter. Find your local Red Cross before you need them. Also, help others be aware and make their own evacuation plans.
Scam artists love to prey on those affected by disasters, when victims are at their most vulnerable. Be on your guard. Planning ahead can reduce the instances of relying on strangers when susceptible and unprotected. Visit the Red Cross site for more information on preparing for the unexpected and check with your own State’s Services to research what assistance is available to seniors during a crisis.

My mother always told me, Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

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Hurricane, Earthquakes Prompt Renewed Concern for Elderly

Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Senior Care

When a magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook the East Coast on August 23, my thoughts immediately went to my elderly aunt living alone in Manhattan. A lifelong denizen, she refuses to leave the island. You know the type—she declined to leave even after the September 11 attacks. I imagined buildings shaking around her, and although this episode wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in my imagination, I wondered how she would fare had it been worse.

I remember the plight of the elderly when Japan suffered its July 2007 earthquake. All of the 10 people killed were older than 65.

Life expectancy, according to the U.S. census, is projected to increase from 76 years in 1993 to 82 years in 2050. We’ve seen a dramatically greater rate of growth in the most vulnerable elderly population.  Over the last decade, the number of elderly (age 65+) with mobility limitations grew by 40 percent. The oldest old (persons 85 years old and over) is the fastest growing segment of the elderly population.

Disasters, natural and otherwise, make the challenges of an aging society become very apparent. I decided it was important to create a family “disaster” plan.

According to the American Red Cross, “forty-five states and territories in the United States are at moderate to very high risk of earthquakes, and they are located in every region of the country.” They post an Earthquake Safety Checklist. Go over it with your family members, especially your seniors living alone.

Make sure they know the safest place in their home for each type of emergency. Speak to your elderly family’s neighbors—perhaps someone would be willing to help them evacuate if necessary. If they need special foods or medications, be sure to have them store several days’ worth. Make sure they know to contact you to let you know that they are safe.

Post-disaster, seniors especially can fall prey to scam artists looking to take advantage of the misfortunes of others. Look for legitimate assistance for services through your family member’s State Agency on Aging.

And if you live a distance away from your senior loved one, you might consider hiring a Home Care Agency so that someone is nearby, knows your loved one, and is ready to help.

Many elderly need assistance even in normal times. In a disaster, they can become absolutely helpless. You can help by preparing them and yourself.

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