As family caregivers, we worry each day about the safety of our seniors, whether they live next door, in our homes, or far away.
Caregivers worry whether senior loved ones are safe in their homes, if they are taking their medicine correctly, if they are eating, or if they are safe driving — among a multitude of other concerns.
That’s a lot of worry!
Sometimes it seems, for family caregivers at least, it is as much “senior worrying” as it is “senior caring” that we do.
A major worry caregivers nearby and at long distance have is how their seniors will handle a harmful storm from Mother Nature.
It could be a thunderstorm that knocks out their power or a hurricane that can cause havoc that lasts for many days or weeks.
How will they deal with the ordeal?
Will they be displaced from their home?
How well prepared is your senior to face the challenge of a “weather event”?
What can family caregivers do now to improve their weathering the next storm?
Weathering the Storm
There are things that family caregivers can do right now and things that they should be keeping abreast of throughout the year to keep aging in place seniors safe in any storm.
Planning ahead is key and updating that plan as time goes by to be sure it remains doable for your senior.
Staying Prepared Now
Tips to be prepared to weather any storm to be done now:
- Keep emergency supplies on hand. Here is a list of supplies that should be in your senior’s home. It is a good idea to have two different kits ready — one for the home and one if a shelter is needed.
- Prepare a safety plan that includes an evacuation strategy. Where will they go and how will they get there? How will they be transported? Is there a safe shelter nearby?
- Keep emergency food and water on hand, along with a manual can opener in case the power goes out.
- Keep a list of medications and doses, insurance card, and other ID handy and up to date. This should also be in the emergency kit.
- Have a phone list of family names and addresses in case someone else is needed to assist them in contacting you. The list should also include their own street address in case they can’t remember it under stress.
- Have a plan to secure outside objects, such as patio furniture, garbage cans or decorations, that can be picked up by strong winds and cause damage.
- Determine in advance who will check up on your long distance loved ones after the storm to be sure they are safe and their home is habitable if you are not nearby.
Staying Prepared Throughout the Year
Readiness is not just for storm seasons, but for whatever might happen, anytime during the year. Taking these steps will help.
- Let local authorities know about your senior and their needs in the case of a storm or other emergency.
- Establish a plan for clearing walkways if covered in snow, ice or debris to prevent injury from falls? Is there someone to call to do the job for them before they slip and fall or can you arrange for this person to check routinely without being called?
- Create a list — and keep it updated — with contact information for police, home repair companies, newspaper delivery, utilities (gas, electric, oil, phone, cable) and the local post office in case you need to contact them from a distance. Post this list where all can see such as on the fridge and send to all involved family members to help when needed.
- Keep important documents, such as insurance papers and banking information, secure and readily accessible when needed after the storm. Be sure everyone involved knows where the important documents are being safely stored.
- Talk about what to expect in a weather event with your senior and other family. Discuss plans with your senior regularly so they remember what will happen, who will need to be called and where they should go.
- Keep the exterior of the home maintained to avoid damage to people or nearby structures during a storm.
- What technology can be used to contact your senior, keep the family members informed, and alert authorities of special needs?
- Install the free FEMA app on your smartphone to get real time alerts of impending storms or other emergencies that could affect your senior (and you).
Having a plan in place and supplies at the ready will help you and your senior handle the storm that is bound to arrive — whether or not you are ready.
Do you have any suggestions to add to the list on things that would be helpful for others to be better prepared? We would love to hear them.