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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are they ready?

by Patricia Grace

Do you ever ask yourself “what would my parents do in case of an earthquake, fire, snowstorm or terrorist attack?” If you answer, “I don’t know,” then it is time to get you and them ready.

Why plan for emergencies?
Emergencies can happen at any time, with our without warning. Having a plan can help keep your older loved ones safe whether the emergency is a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Think about the kinds of emergencies that may happen in their area…earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and how they will be notified about them.

Getting started…
To prepare them for any emergency they need to have certain important information such as:
• Driver’s License or other Photo ID
• Insurance Cards
• Utility bills
• Phone numbers for doctor, veterinarian, pharmacy
• Police & Fire Department phone numbers
• List of medications
• Instructions for medical devices and equipment
Once you have helped them gather this information record it in a booklet or on-line with the Aging with Grace Personal Health Record. Share this plan with at least two other people, but more importantly review it and update it as needed.

Ask a local as well as an out-of-town relative or friend to serve as their emergency contacts. If a disaster occurs, encourage them to call the out-of town contact first as it is often easier to call out of the affected area. The out of town person should be within a few hours driving distance.
Make sure to keep current contact information including cell phone and Skype numbers. Now might be a good time to introduce social networking to elderly family members. As current events have highlighted, sites like Twitter, Facebook and Skype can be lifelines to the outside and may be the only way to communicate with family.

Make a Plan
Identify three family members or friends that live close to your family member. Discuss any special needs the older person might have. Are they wheelchair or oxygen dependent, cognitively impaired, or diabetic, do they speak English? If so, how will these special needs be met?

Make an Emergency Kit
Collect important items that will help the elderly person to stay indoors in the event of an emergency. If an evacuation is required, a smaller version of the kit should go with them. The following are essential items:
• One gallon of water per person for 3 days
• Non-perishable food such as canned or packaged foods
• One change of clothes & footwear per person
• List of medications
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Battery powered, hand-crank radio
• Hygiene items such as soap, toilet paper and toothbrush
• First aid basics such as band aids and antiseptic spray
Make sure all of this information is up-dated on their personal health record.

Stay Informed
Stress the importance of monitoring emergency channels and following all instructions. If they need to evacuate, plan for a place to meet directly outside the home as well as another location. Draw a plan or route on paper and if possible enter and store information on a GPS device. Discuss what it means to shelter in place. Review safest room, number of doors, windows, etc.

With all of the media attention surrounding the recent earthquakes, snow storms and mudslides now might be the right time to discuss this important issue with older family members.

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Low Vision Therapy Services

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)

Well Spouse Association

U.S. Administration on Aging


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Alzheimer's Speaks

Official VA Website