Many older adults have issues that need to be taken into consideration when implementing an emergency plan. The same basic steps are involved as in family emergency planning, but there are some senior-specific things that need to be addressed. If your parents are elderly or you are a caregiver, you need to handle all of the below steps to ensure that the seniors in your life stay safe in emergencies. You may experience some resistance from them, but it is very important that you persist and prepare ahead of time.
The Five Basics for Seniors
- Identify natural disaster risks in the area such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, floods, heatwaves, drought, etc. If your older relative lives in a retirement or nursing home facility, ask the administrator about their disaster and evacuation procedures. If your loved one has mobility issues, this needs to be incorporated into emergency preparedness.
- Create a family emergency plan in advance. This should include a list with Social Security numbers, medications, health conditions, and health insurance information for everyone in the plan. In addition, note the address and phone numbers of local fire and police departments, nearby regional meeting places (like community centers), and a contingency evacuation location.
- Establish a personal support network that includes family members and trusted friends. Remember to include at least a few people who live in a different community, but still close enough that travel is not prohibitive. Share phone numbers, residential keys, copies of relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans, and health insurance and physician information. It is helpful to have several modes of communication for each person such as a landline and cell phone number, as well as email addresses.
- Put together an emergency kit ahead of time. This should include the following essentials:
- Water to last three to five days (one gallon per person per day)
- Dehydrated or freeze dried meals with enough to last three to five days
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Blankets and extra clothing
- Prescription medications and a first-aid kit
- Extra glasses, hearing aids, and hearing aid batteries (if applicable)
- Extra cash because access to banks and ATMs may be compromised
Copies of important documents such as birth certificates, Social Security and Medicare cards, and insurance and financial forms should be stored in a fireproof box. An alternative is to keep digital copies of these key documents on a portable flash drive.
- Arrange for electronic payments of federal benefits or other retirement income. If the person you care for has not signed up yet, call 1-800-333-1795 or visit godirect.org for assistance. You will have to obtain phone numbers for other income sources, e.g., mutual funds, in order to set up electronic payments. A disaster can disrupt mail service for an extended period of time. Receiving payment electronically ensures that adequate funds are available and also eliminates the risk of lost or stolen checks.