Seniors at Risk in Power Outages as They Age in Place

Does your senior rely on a home medical device powered by energy?

A medical device is equipment used to cure, treat or prevent a disease.  It is often used in the home by a person who has been trained to use it such as a healthcare provider, caregiver or the person using the equipment themselves.  These devices need to function properly for safety and effectiveness.

What will happen to your senior who uses a medical device if the power goes out during a storm or other event?  You should have a plan in place to handle any breaks in power service whether for just a short time or for a longer than expected time.

As soon as an essential medical device is put in service in the home, the local electric utility (and sometimes other authorities) should be notified of its existence and need.  This will put your loved one on a list for immediate attention during a power outage.

Preparing a document for each medical device and creating a book kept on hand for easy access will help you, your senior or any other person who comes to your senior’s aid during an emergency.

What to Put in Your Senior’s Book

Your senior’s book should include:

  1. The phone number of all utility companies including power, gas and water.  Also include emergency numbers such as the fire department, police, healthcare provider and the company that services your senior’s medical devices.  Quick access to these phone numbers is invaluable.  Don’t forget to keep your name and phone number in this book in case it is needed by a responder.
  2. The name, model # and instructions for using the medical device.
  3. A list of your senior’s medication and pharmacy contact.
  4. Your senior’s insurance card and any other important paperwork such as your senior’s power of attorney and advance directives.
  5. A list of information specific about each device such as will it run without power, does it have a battery backup, how long the battery is expected to last, how many batteries does it use and can a lay person replace them, where the replacement batteries can be found, what will happen during a power surge to the equipment, how is it restarted, can the device operate on an alternate power source, can your senior be off the equipment for a period of time and how long would that be.
  6. Information about the treatment the device provides:  What needs to be done if the power is lost in the middle of a treatment? When the power returns, is the treatment started again or finished for that time?
  7. Location where medical supplies are kept.  Is there enough for at least three days?
  8. Does the device or supplies need to be kept at a certain temperature, will it need a cooler and ice to function properly?
  9. Instructions for how the device should be cleaned and where the supplies to clean it are stored.
  10. Where are flashlights and batteries stored?
  11. Instructions on the safe use of supplies: don’t use if package is torn, wet or contaminated, if it is too hot/cold, or if pieces are broken or missing.
  12. Instructions for settings of medical device.

If your senior has to relocate during a storm or power outage, be sure he takes his equipment, any supplies needed, batteries and this book of information wherever he goes.

Being prepared for an emergency will help you and your senior weather the storm.

We look forward to hearing your ideas for care of all medical devices so we can share with others.

7 thoughts on “Seniors at Risk in Power Outages as They Age in Place”

    • You’re welcome! We feel that medical devices are sometimes provided to seniors without enough information to know what to do in an emergency. We hope that the information we presented will start caregivers asking questions and learning what they need to know to protect their senior loved ones. Thank you for viewing our site and we hope you come back often!

  1. My mother in law lives in a senior park and her power keeps goin on and off through out the year at random. She was told her trailer is on the older side of the park and that happens. She is on oxygen full time and I’ve called smud to see why the power keeps going off on her side of the park and they say it’s the park managers that pay and monitor the meters. Will smud help us? The park managers are not helpful at all.

    • Kim, it sounds as though the power company is not responsible for the power connection to her home. They only provide power to the main residence owner who may be the park. The manager as the landlord is responsible. Can she be relocated to the other side of the park to get the power her medical device needs? You may need to take legal action due to her need for life sustaining power to source her medical device. We are not attorneys and don’t know the exact situation, but you are your MIL’s strongest advocate!

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