Hurricane season brings special challenges

Floridians understand how to prepare for seasonal bad weather, but for families living with dementia, hurricane season can present special challenges.

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia do not have the benefit of memory, so they cannot reassure themselves from the knowledge that most tropical storms do little or no damage. For them, every harsh weather experience can be frightening.

Just being moved from their home or community to a strange shelter may be upsetting because it shatters their routine and confronts them with an unfamiliar environment.

Care providers can plan for a weather emergency by creating a kit that contains at least three days of supplies. This kit should be assembled in advance and stored away. Do not try to assemble your kit at the last minute, and especially not in the presence of your loved one, which could cause anxiety and panic.

Know your evacuation route and pre-register at your county’s special needs shelter in case you have to evacuate. If possible, staying with a neighbor, family member, or a friend may be a better alternative than a public shelter since your loved one may accept it as a more “normal” environment.

If your loved one lives in a professional care community, become familiar with its disaster and evacuation plan so you will not be faced with last-minute surprises.

As a general rule, plan in advance, stay calm, and look for ways to continue the activities your loved one likes and understands.
For more information, contact the National Institute on Aging which offers an extensive disaster planning toolkit. Go to www.nia.nih/health/disaster-preparedness-alzheimers-caregivers.

Emergency Preparedness List:

Easy on/off comfortable clothes (a couple of sets)
Easy on/off comfortable shoes/sneakers
Blanket or jacket
Second pair of eye glasses
Incontinence products, wipes
Toiletry supplies for three to four days
Personal identification (ID bracelets, clothing tags)
Human scent preservation kit
Medication and use/dosage information in a Ziploc bag
Legal documents in a Ziploc bag
List of emergency contact numbers
Recent photo of your loved one with vital information on the back
Battery operated radio with extra batteries
Flashlight and batteries
Portable music device with earphones to shut out noise
Simple activities such as cards, photo albums, scrapbooks, coloring books
Cell phone charger
Favorite drinks and snacks
A tracking device for your loved one

Debbie Selsavage is a Certified Trainer and Consultant in the Positive Approach to Care, and a Certified Dementia Practitioner. Her company, Coping with Dementia LLC, is dedicated to making life better for individuals living with dementia. Contact Debbie at [email protected].

Until next time remember: “We all deserve the Best”

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