No matter where we live, natural disasters, and even the man-made ones like the Lac-Mégantic derailment, typically strike quickly and without warning. No one is immune from the effects of disasters, particularly the elderly.
With emergency situations, we need to consider the special needs of aging loved ones who are confined to a bed, are wheelchair-bound or who have limited mobility, cognition, vision or hearing. With a little planning, aging seniors can stay safe and comfortable in times of disasters and emergencies.
Create a personal support network and plan. Whether they are family members, neighbors, friends or professional caregivers, seniors need a group of people who can offer hands-on assistance in disasters. The elderly need to talk with a circle of helpers about personal limitations and concerns, and an action plan should be created to resolve these issues.
Stay informed. Ask about federal, provincial and local disaster preparedness guidelines for seniors. Older adults should know in advance community warning systems and how they will be notified in a possible emergency, especially if they have problems hearing a telephone or viewing television or computer screens. Many communities have neighborhood disaster preparedness groups already in place for emergencies. Check in advance with local fire stations, ambulance services and other first responders who may come door to door with emergency warnings or use special radios that have hazard alerts.
Helping older loved ones plan for possible disasters and community emergencies reduces anxiety, injuries and life-threatening situations. We can all help each other by planning for disasters as not just a matter of if, but when.
What tips can you share about preparing for unexpected disasters?