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Caring for seniors when natural disaster strikes

Natural disasters have a devastating impact on cities, people, and communities. But one segment of the population—the elderly—is particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes. Seniors suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia are even more at risk, due in part to their need for familiarity and routine as well as their reluctance to seek help because of fear that it will threaten their independence.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the anticipation of Hurricane Irma, Senior Helpers, a national franchise of in-home senior caregiver services, has put together quick tips to help families and communities care for elders in the wake of disaster.

  • Prepare an emergency contact list with relatives, doctors, pharmacies, insurance companies, banks, helplines and the local Red Cross
  • Ask your aging loved one's doctor to prescribe regular medications to be kept on-hand for emergency situations
  • Prepare a disaster kit with medications, medical records, clothing, toiletries, water and even familiar photos, a favorite blanket, etc. as seniors are resistant and do not react well to change
  • Provide seniors with an identification bracelet that has an emergency contact on it to help emergency responders identify preexisting conditions easier
  • Have medical records made available electronically. Many seniors have existing medical conditions that will still require monitoring and treatment during and after evacuation. Electronic medical records can aid in seniors receiving continued treatment
  • Research and locate your nearest “special needs” shelter that can assist citizens with medical needs during an emergency. You usually need to pre-register and meet criteria for these shelters