What’s your plan for assuring your senior loved one is safe after a tornado, hurricane or other severe weather event? Storms have carried tragedy to many areas of the US this Spring and along with it helplessness for those cut off by the storm and worry for distant loved ones. Those issues were particularly strong for seniors living at home and their distant family members during the recent weather outbreaks.
With June bringing in another hurricane season and an early arrival of Summer heat, while we likely have not left Spring’s storms behind us, we want to discuss a step that could help with some of those issues. We can’t stop the storms, of course, but we can alleviate some of the helplessness and needless worry afterward. The key is a communications plan, something that also provides benefits year round.
Plan in Advance
Seniors and family members should work out in advance means and timing of communicating, such as “at 5:00 pm each afternoon Mom calls (or emails) child X” to chat about the day and, of course, provide assurance that all is well. The plan includes progressive steps to be taken if Mom does not call, such as phoning a neighbor advancing up to calling the local authorities to check in. That provides peace of mind for the family and a safety net should something happen and Mom not be able to call, assuring she won’t be alone for days in case of illness, fall or tragedy.
The plan should also include special calls after an event like a tornado, in which case the child called by Mom would notify the rest of the family that all is (hopefully) well or let them know that further steps are needed to address Mom’s needs.
This plan will not work, of course, when lines of communications are down such as after a severe storm. For those situations, designated family members should have a roster of phone numbers, email addresses and websites of community agencies and government offices (such as first responders and the Red Cross) to contact for more information about those affected by the storm. This also allows for key information about your senior, such as specific medical needs, to be communicated by you for help in prioritizing searches and assuring rescuers have appropriate equipment or medication available. Know where your senior would take shelter in a storm and how to contact her or the staff at the designated shelter.
Include a Backup Plan
You should pick a means of communications that works for both you and your senior loved one and also a back up. For example, you may choose to use email or one of the technologies we discussed in our podcast episode on Senior Home Technology for regular day to day communication but should also have a backup plan to use a land line or cell phone should internet service and/or power be knocked out.
Remember, the keys here are two: (1) making sure your senior loved one gets help if needed and (2) to reassure loved ones that someone will help when it’s needed and family members when help is NOT needed.
Do you have a plan in place for your family? If so, we would love to have you share it with our readers!