Keeping Seniors and People with Disabilities Safe and Healthy during Emergencies
Recommendations by the Administration for Community Living, a Dept. of Health & Human Services division.
With hurricane season for the Atlantic beginning on June 1st and Tropical Storm Erika heading toward Florida, it gives us an urgent reason to be prepared for storms and the aftermath that comes with them. T.S. Erika has now dissipated and been downgraded, but we can still expect heavy rain and flooding. We want to remind everyone this is the time to prepare and plan if you have not done so.
Although everyone needs a preparedness plan, those with disabilities and seniors have special circumstances that make a plan more important for safety and health. Approximately half of those over age 65 have two or more chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions increase a person’s vulnerability during periods of time without food, water, shelter, and adequate rest. People with disabilities have some of the same needs as older adults, but they may also have a wider variety of functional limitations, sometimes requiring more supports, many of which could likely be in short supply during a crisis event.
Components of An Emergency Plan:
You always want a plan that is customized for the senior or person with a disability–this will create the best possible outcome during an emergency, both physically and mentally.
- Review mobility limitations and the need for batteries or electrically powered medical devices or durable medical equipment. Without the appropriate contingencies, these limitations could negatively impact a person during a crisis.
- Create a kit of emergency necessities. This should include medication, food, water, batteries or chargers, and any supplies that pets or service animals may need.
- Talk to friends, family, and neighbors to create a support network that can help with communication, transportation, and essential care during periods of time when other community-based services and supports are not available.
- Most importantly, learn the locations of the nearest Functional Needs Support Shelters appropriate to your needs.
There are many resources available to build a solid plan that will help seniors and those with disabilities best handle crisis situations. The Centers for Disease Control has put together a comprehensive list for you at http://www.cdc.gov/aging/emergency/preparedness.htm.
Thank you for taking the time now to prepare for the hurricane season for you and your loved ones.