Facing Disasters While Caring for the Elderly
Disasters, How to Prepare
All of us are reeling from the news photos of Texas flooding. My parents watched the video of the nursing home residents being rescued over and over again. Disasters are especially frightening when you are completely helpless and dependent upon others. You are totally vulnerable.
My mom is from Kansas and like the storybook Dorothy, she saw tornadoes. My grandpa, her dad, was born in 1891 in Kansas. When he was 19, a tornado hit their family farm. He got caught getting horses out of the barn when it hit. The barn collapsed on him and a beam hit his head. He had a wide scar and what looked like a skull fracture that never healed correctly. He received no medical care. I’m sure they figured if he could walk around, he was fine. Of course they tell me the local doctor was drunk more often than sober, which might make one reluctant to seek care.
I’ve tried to figure out which tornado it was. I know it happened in 1910 near Parker, Kansas. Checking old issues of newspapers for the area, there have been so many tornadoes in the area, it’s hard to tell.
My mom remembers being rushed to the cellar as a little girl and sitting in the dark among the canned goods and potatoes. I found out they called them “”Fraidy Holes.” She also remembers a hail storm that was so bad her mother had to pick them up from school in the car (a big deal, apparently). The hailstones smashed the windows of the car.
None of us are ever fully ready for disasters. We prepare as best we can ahead of time. If we care for an elderly person there are added preparations we make. Where we live dictates what natural disasters we prepare for. Experts recommend finding out which are likely in your area. Thinking about it I realized our family alone has been through tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, and a volcanic eruption.
September is National Preparedness Month
Below shows a basic three-day survival kit. If you have elderly people living with you, also consider enough medicine for three days at least, extra hearing aid batteries, their emergency contact information (next of kid, doctor’s name, allergies, major medical problems). If your loved one has an electric wheelchair, you need extra batteries for that and supplies for whatever other medical needs they have (feeding tubes, oxygen, dressing changes, etc).
For us, the main problem is mobility. Mom can’t get into our four-wheel drive car, neither of them can walk more than 50 feet and even that is a challenge. We would need outside help to evacuate in a hurry or we would have to improvise, turning the back of the SUV into a semi-ambulance.
You need a basic three-day emergency kit for each person which includes:
- a radio (waterproof) with batteries for news and emergency directions, or the wind-up kind
- nonperishable food,
- emergency blanket (the space kind)
- first aid kit, including protective gloves
- hygiene items–this differs by age and sex but moist towelettes, and adult diapers would be part of ours for the elders, along with toothbrush, toothpaste (a good place for the ones you get at the dentist), soap (for us the liquid or foam, no rinse type), washcloth, comb, shampoo, deodorant.
- waterproof matches
- cash and ID
- a roll of duct tape
- needed medications
- multipurpose tool, like a Swiss army knife
- extra clothes
- cell phone
- a backpack to put everything in
You can actually buy assembled kits from the Red Cross, though I wouldn’t try now–they are a bit busy. Have you made preparations at your house? What have you done?
A Video On Preparing for Emergencies with An Elderly Person
Have A Good Caregiving Day,