Aging in Place: Planning for Natural Disasters or Emergencies

While natural disasters and other emergencies affect everyone, older adults tend to be more vulnerable in these situations. Here, the caregivers at Avila Home Care help to ensure that aging in place seniors are prepared in the event of an emergency and have a plan to address their individual needs.

Developing an emergency plan specific to a senior’s own unique situation is essential to a safe aging in place experience. Senior citizens may need to develop plans that compensate for impaired physical mobility, diminished sensory awareness, chronic health conditions or social and economic limitations that could limit the ability to respond and adapt to an emergency situation. By examining their unique needs, seniors and their loved ones can create a personalized plan that addresses these needs and maximizes independence.

Create a Basic Emergency Supply Kit

A typical emergency supply kit includes storable food, water, batteries, flashlights and a first-aid kit. In addition to these necessities, seniors should maintain a supply of personal, health and home supplies; this can include contact lenses or eyeglasses, medications, copies of prescriptions, photo identification, copies of essential documents (Social Security card, health insurance card, etc.), a small amount of cash and a list of medications, physicians, and pharmacies.

Make an Escape Plan

Seniors and their loved ones will need to develop an escape plan with respect to the senior’s capabilities—seniors who require a wheelchair or a walker will need to be sure that all exits are accessible to this transportation. Ideally, every room should have a minimum of two accessible emergency exits. Be sure to keep eyeglasses, keys, hearing aids and a phone in reach from the bed or exit points for ease of access when you are in a room. This plan should be practiced regularly to ensure a timely exit in the event of an emergency.

Develop a Communication Plan

Discuss a plan for communicating with family members and other loved ones in the event of an emergency to ensure the safety of everyone involved. It is also prudent to establish a meeting place away from home that would be convenient for family members in the event of emergency evacuation. Plan to keep informed of developments in the disaster by either telephone, cell phone, computer, radio, television or newspaper.

Adjust Your Plan as Necessary

Review your plan and emergency kit every six months to be sure it is up to date, making adjustments as your needs or situation changes. Check expirations dates on food in your stored supplies; replace food, water, batteries, medications and any other perishable items in the kit. Practice the escape plan regularly and revise it as needed.

Receive Benefits Electronically

A natural disaster can interrupt mail service for weeks or even months, meaning Social Security or other regular benefits may be delayed for seniors. Prevent this from occurring by applying to receive benefits electronically, which will arrive regardless of an interruption in mail service and can also help to prevent checks stolen from the mail. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends receiving electronic benefits through direct deposit to a checking or savings account, or by registering for a Direct Express prepaid debit card.

Discuss Your Emergency Plan with an Avila Home Care Provider

In the event of an emergency, safety is the top priority. Avila Home Care knows that an emergency plan allows seniors to feel empowered in an emergency situation and retain their independence while aging in place. Our dedicated home care providers want to know about your emergency plan and help you to practice and adjust the plan as needed. For more information about our caregivers, or how to effectively plan for an emergency, contact us today!

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