Seniors and/or Disabilities
Seniors Disasters Concerns:
Seniors Should Plan Ahead to be Ready for Disasters
Senior citizens, especially those with medical issues and limited mobility, can be vulnerable in the event of a disaster. But even if you have physical limitations, you can still protect yourself by having a personal disaster plan in place.
Local, state and federal officials are urging all Americans, especially senior citizens, to review, update and rehearse their disaster plans. By looking ahead, seniors can be prepared for any disaster, natural or manmade.
Senior citizens living in a group setting such as a nursing home or adult living facility should contact the administrator to learn about the specific disaster/evacuation plan for that facility.
But no matter where you are evacuating from, all seniors need to be aware of their own unique needs. By evaluating your own personal and medical needs and making an emergency plan, seniors can be better prepared for any situation no matter where they live.
Some of the concerns seniors can face during disasters include:
Visual impairments - Seniors with visual impairments may be reluctant to leave familiar surroundings when the request for evacuation comes from a stranger. A guide dog could become confused or disoriented in a disaster. People who are blind or partially sighted may have to depend on others to lead them, as well as their dog, to safety during a disaster.
Hearing impairments - Those with impaired hearing may need to make special arrangements to receive warnings.
Mobility impairments - Individuals with challenges moving may need special assistance to get to a shelter. Persons using mobility devices, such as wheelchairs or scooters, should be sure their caretakers know how to operate required, equipment including automobile chair lifts.
Special dietary needs - Seniors with special diet requirements should take precautions to have an adequate emergency food supply.
Medical conditions - Seniors with medical conditions such as diabetes should know the location and availability of more than one facility if dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
Cognitive challenges - Some seniors may need help responding to emergencies and getting to a shelter. When severe weather is anticipated, individuals with dementia and other cognitive challenges can experience heightened confusion. In preparation for disasters, seniors with dementia should be registered in the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program. Visit: Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program.
Additionally, seniors should:
-Make provisions for medications that require refrigeration;
-Maintain a list of the type and model numbers of required medical devices;
-Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify challenges;
-Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and co-workers who can help in an emergency;
-Maintain a contact list of individuals who can be relied upon to help during an emergency;
-Ask residential building management to mark accessible exits clearly and to help make arrangements for safe departure from the building in an emergency; and
-Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, prescriptions and food for service animals.