I am sure there is someone saying, “It has never happened to me,” “I will not have to evacuate,” or “I know where everything is.” This may be true, but when you are caring for someone who may not be competent to assist with the evacuation, you must be prepared and ready prior to the emergency.
Because we live in Florida, we think of hurricanes as the most likely cause for evacuation, but this may not be the only emergency we must be prepared for. Anything that will remove you from your place of safety, routine, and comfort can be an emergency to a person living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
There are many things that can be taken care of beforehand, so let’s look at a few.
If staying with family or a friend during evacuation is an option, be sure this is agreed to and prepared for in advance.
If a shelter is the only option, call your local county to register in a special needs shelter. Wherever you plan to evacuate, don’t wait until the last minute. The longer you wait, the more hectic the situation may become.
To avoid confusion or last-minute panic, it is a good idea to prepare and have an emergency kit at hand. It should contain some of the following:
You should take copies of all legal paperwork with you, such as medical information, power of attorney, insurance papers, and a list of emergency contacts (physician, family, etc.). I know caregivers who keep such documents in the glove box of their car, which is a good idea.
Have a three day supply of medications and don’t forget to update the medications in the kit when prescriptions are changed.
Have three days of clothes, (including continence supplies). To reduce confusion for your loved one, the clothes should be comfortable and familiar to them, if possible.
If they wear eyeglasses, get a spare pair for the kit.
If they require oxygen, take a spare tank.
Bottled water and even some of their favorite snacks.
Have a current picture.
Have some kind of ID on your loved one, such as a bracelet. The Alzheimer’s Family Organization has a “wanderer’s bracelet.” If you do not have one, call now and ask about it.
There may be other things you need, but preparing a kit now will give you time to think through your situation and be sure you are prepared. I promise, if you try to collect what you need under the pressure of an imminent evacuation, you will likely forget important items. If they have a favorite item, such as a blanket or pillow, be sure to take it with you.
Removing your loved one from home in an emergency will cause them distress, possibly causing behavior issues. This is when you have to stay as clam as possible, hold hands, speak calmly, and do not let them out of your sight. Be educated on how to re-direct their concern, try to avoid noisy places, validate their fear, and let them know you are there for them.
If you have placed your loved one in the care of others, such as an assisted Living facility, a nursing home, or a licensed private home, there will be an evacuation plan in place. Learn what that plan is and whether you might have a role in it. This is all part of assuring your loved one will be safe.
Being prepared is the best way to turn an emergency into a manageable situation.
Until next time remember: “We all deserve the best”
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© Debbie Selsavage, 2016