Emergency Preparedness for Aging in Place Seniors with Chronic Disease

Storms, wildfires, earthquakes, hazardous chemical spills and more can force us to take action quickly.

Tough for everyone, sure, but a potential life-threatening hardship for many of our senior loved ones.

It’s not uncommon for seniors to have chronic and debilitating diseases that could make it difficult for them during an emergency.

Many older adults have special medical needs or disabilities that will make it hard for them to care for themselves during and after an emergency, especially if they are forced to evacuate.

Admit it, as a family caregiver you worry about those situations, don’t you!

There are resources available and preparation planning that can be done to ensure that they are able to manage their chronic disease in the face of emergency. You can help them be successful with a bit of planning.

In addition to making a kit to have ready, you and your senior should discuss the plan so you both know what to do if disaster strikes. Will they need to go to a shelter due to their location? If so, who will transport them there? How will they contact loved ones to let them know if they are safe? Do local authorities know that they will need more assistance?

Emergency Kit for Senior Loved Ones

Seniors need to be ready for an emergency with a pre-prepared kit that will meet their specific needs. Prepare suitable supplies in case your senior is at home following an emergency and also a separate kit in case they must head to a shelter, as both are valuable investments of time and energy. Your senior may want to place essential items in a duffel bag or small suitcase with wheels for ease of use. Keep your senior’s kit up to date replacing items as needed every six months.

The basic kit should include:

  • Your important paperwork including medication list, allergy list, contact numbers and insurance information
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid supplies, including bandages and pain/fever reducer
  • Medications, including refill information and pharmacy contact number, medical supplies
  • Potable water for at least three days for each person and pet, one gallon per person
  • Medical devices and batteries
  • Cell phone car charger in case of power failure
  • Non-perishable food for minimum of three days and manual can opener, pet food for pet two
  • Battery radio and NOAA Weather radio with extra batteries
  • Basic tool kit with wrench or pliers to shut off utilities
  • Extra glasses, hearing aid with extra batteries
  • Some cash in case a purchase is required
  • Blanket
  • One full change of clothes and shoes

You can also buy pre-packaged preparedness kits and personalize them with your senior loved one’s clothing and other essentials.

Diabetes Emergency Plan

Before disaster strikes it is recommended that anyone who is diagnosed with diabetes have a preparedness plan in place so that they can continue to manage their diabetes with adequate supplies at the ready.

The experts recommend the creation of a special emergency kit separate from the first aid and emergency supplies you should also have on hand. You diabetes kits should be waterproof and insulated.

Contents of a diabetes kit should be:

  • The diabetic’s medical information, including type of diabetes, allergies, list of medications with the pharmacy contact information, and healthcare provider information
  • Thirty day supply of prescription medication, whether administered by mouth or injection
  • Laboratory results, including A1C if available
  • Blood glucose testing supplies, including meter, strips, extra batteries
  • Cooler with several refreezable gel packs
  • Empty plastic container for used syringes, needles, lancets
  • Glucose tablets or other hypoglycemic reaction supplies
  • Two day supply of non-perishable foods
  • Three day supply of water
  • Note taking supplies (pen, pencil, notebook) to record test results, symptoms
  • First aid supplies such as cotton swabs, alcohol, topical antibiotic cream, bandages

We can’t predict where storms will strike this year or their severity. What we do know is that the next storm will come. Power outages and decreased accessibility to essential services are a likely outcome, no matter in what part of the nation your senior resides.

Having basic supplies and a plan for dealing with the next emergency will help your senior weather the storm and get the help they need afterward.

Have you collected items for your kit yet? If your senior has a kit, has it been updated lately with fresh food, water and batteries?

We hope your senior loved one is not affected by an emergency but confident they can face one with peace of mind, knowing you have helped them prepare.