When an emergency happens, seniors are among the most vulnerable. Seniors are not vulnerable to emergencies just because of their age but also because of the challenges of aging, such as frailty, memory loss, and mobility problems. Even independent seniors are at significant risk if they are cut off from their support systems. Seniors and those who look over them must therefore be prepared for emergencies.
For those looking for answers on how to take care of their older loved ones in emergencies and how to prepare them for emergencies, some of the answers lie below.
These answers benefit:
- Senior adults
- Their families
- Caregivers who care for seniors
It’s important to know helpful information, tips, and recommendations that assist families with senior emergency preparedness and emergency elderly care.
How Do Seniors Modify Their Homes for Emergencies?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- About 3 million older adults are hospitalized in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Falls are the most prominent cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
With the right knowledge, caregivers can help themselves and an elderly loved one to be safer and keep them from joining this alarming statistic.
Safety is the foremost concern for any senior, as well as for their family. To make the home suitable for senior family members, caregivers must prioritize safety above all else while designing and adjusting the following rooms for them which are:
- Anti-slip rugs
- Wide doorways for wheelchair mobility
- Safety bars in the bathtub or shower
- Rearrangement of kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator for easy accessibility
- Space for their favorite chair, medical equipment, etc.
How Do Seniors and Loved Ones Create an Emergency Plan?
Every part of the world is vulnerable to some dangerous events. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, landslides, floods, and winter storms pose genuine threats to millions of people annually. Safety and survival depend on careful planning and preparation for the likelihood of these emergencies.
Following these steps can help families and seniors get ready:
- Have an emergency communications plan: Create a chain of mobile phone calls or group texts amongst family members caring for the elderly. Making the first call to someone, who then calls the next person, and so on, is known as a phone call chain. This makes sure that everyone in the family and circle of acquaintances is informed of the situation in an emergency.
- Keep contact details complete and up to date: Have the most recent contact details for everybody they’d need to call in an emergency. Make sure seniors have family members’ and neighbors’ phone numbers. Put a copy of this in their travel wallet, bag, or suitcase.
- Get local emergency plan in advance: Obtain the local community’s disaster/emergency plan. Find out where evacuees go to receive medical care or emergency packages. Get a map of evacuation routes to put in the person’s car.
- Decide on a meeting place for evacuation: When an emergency happens, friends and family might not be together. Select two feasible meeting locations—one near their home, the other outside of the neighborhood, where they can wait and family members can find them. Make sure they know the location name, address, and contact information. Caregivers should check where seniors will be taken during an evacuation if they are taking care of elderly people who live in apartments. Depending on the situation, keep in mind that the road network may not be safe and that internet and telecommunications lines may be down for a while. Create a list of local shelters’ phone numbers and aid groups and save them in an emergency folder.
- Exercise mock-disaster situations: Review and practice their emergency plan with their family and friends to make sure it can be executed if necessary.
- Obtain a medical ID bracelet: Request a medical ID bracelet for elderly people with chronic health challenges. It is possible to engrave the surface with details about their medical conditions, sensitivities, and emergency contacts. Put identification information, diagnoses, and treatments in a wallet that travelers can carry with them at all times.
How Do You Keep Seniors Calm Ahead of An Emergency?
When they have time to prepare for how they’ll handle a natural disaster, seniors won’t worry as much. Making a plan in advance to help everyone feel prepared to withstand the emergency can reduce the possibility that seniors will feel alone if and when it does strike.
If a natural disaster is imminent, there are a few things that can help keep seniors calm:
- Maintain contact. In the days before the disaster, call them twice or three times every day, or more frequently depending on the event’s severity.
- Maintain regular routines, eating patterns, and sleeping schedules as much as possible.
- Stay off any news programs about the imminent natural disaster.
- Explore exciting activities to have fun, such as games or other things they like.
- If they are capable and willing, seniors can volunteer and provide support to others. Finding means to contribute to society helps reduce feelings of hopelessness.
If an individual has Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia, they can still detect an emergency if they are elderly and have cognitive impairment. They won’t be able to remember all the details, so convey what is happening in clear terms. Validate their concerns but make an effort to remain as composed as possible. Give clear directions without condescending or rushing the process.
It is essential to put together a thorough emergency plan and supplies pack to make sure that seniors and their families are well-prepared for any unforeseen risks. These actions not only assist seniors practically and logistically but can also boost their self-assurance, which reduces anxiety.
What Makes Up a Senior Medical Kit?
A senior emergency kit should include:
- Medications: A 3–6-day supply of their medications, as well as a current list of all the medications they are taking, including the dosage and generic and brand names.
- Medical equipment: Seniors must bring their own durable medical equipment (DME) because the majority of local shelters lack it. These include any portable DME their loved one requires to maintain their health, such as blood sugar monitors, specific pillows to prevent skin damage, and therapeutic oxygen equipment.
- Mobility Aids: Plan how a senior will move around and leave the house if they are bedridden, wheelchair-bound, or have mobility issues. If someone uses a motorized wheelchair, for example, make sure a manual wheelchair is available as a backup.
- Visual Aids: Keep an extra walking stick with a whistle attached for an elderly relative who is blind or visually impaired. Tell them to be cautious when moving during or right away after an emergency because things in the house might have been moved around or blocked paths. Make sure to include extra eyeglasses or any other necessary visual aids in their medical kit.
- Hearing Aids: Hearing-impaired people should keep extra hearing aid batteries on hand and keep their hearing aids in a designated location, such as their nightstand, so they can be found quickly in an emergency.
- Legal and Health Documents: Keep copies of important medical documents in a designated folder that is accessible to both seniors and their caregivers. Ask their healthcare provider for a list of all their current medical issues, a description of any ongoing therapies, as well as their medical history. Other essential documents include a comprehensive medication list. In cases of evacuation, copies of the deed or lease to one’s home, as well as insurance plans, may be helpful.
Senior Emergency Kits are also known as Senior Survival Kits or Senior Citizen Survival Kits. A senior emergency kit should include senior medical kit equipment, as listed above, and:
- Drinking Water: Seniors or people who take care of them should plan for at least 1 gallon per person daily, or at most for three days.
- Food: It should contain at least a three-day supply of non-perishable canned and dried goods. Soups, smoothies high in protein, and juices can be particularly beneficial.
- Prescription Medications: Request the healthcare professional caring for an elderly loved one to provide an extra supply of their prescriptions. This enables their loved one to stick to their regimen despite bad weather and closed or inaccessible pharmacies. Recall that both prescription and over-the-counter medications have expiration dates, so dispose of any that have already passed their expiry dates.
- Essential Supplies: Lighting devices, batteries, knife, basic cooking utensils, whistle, power bank should be added to the kit.
- Clothing: A complete set of clothing for each individual, including a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, footwear and weather-appropriate outerwear can be of great help.
- Basic Personal Hygiene Products: Seniors constantly require specialized goods for their convenience and personal hygiene. Adult briefs, pads, bath soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, latex gloves, and toilet paper are all emergency supplies for older adults that enable them to maintain as much of their normal daily routine and level of care as possible during and after an emergency. Don’t forget to include items like face masks, paper towels, disposable trash bags, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, etc.
- Contact Information and Important Documents: Have the phone numbers and addresses of relations and neighbors they might need to contact, their healthcare provider, and any medical practitioner they see. Include copies of their identification and credit cards.
- Cash: Keep emergency cash on hand and ensure seniors have at least $100 available in case the power goes out and access to electronic cash isn’t available.
- First Aid Kit
What Makes Up Senior First Aid Kits?
One of the main priorities during an emergency is to stay safe and take care of any sustained injuries as medical assistance may not be accessible. Seniors first aid kits should have the essential supplies to treat minor and major wounds.
Their first aid kit should include the following items.
Sanitation and Cleaning
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Liquid Antiseptics
- Methylated Spirit
- Eye drops
- Saline solution
- Oral analgesic gel
- Essential oils
- Eye wash solution
- Hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion for the treatment of bug bites, itchiness, and inflammation
- Aloe Vera
- Antibiotic ointment to avoid infections, such as Neosporin
- Burn Cream
- Medical tape
- Compression bandage
- Flexible splint
- Medical-grade super glue
- Butterfly bandage
- Non-adhesive pads to protect wounds or arrest bleeding
- Flexible bandage with clips
- Latex-free adhesive bandages
- Their personal prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Digestive disorders’ medication and laxatives
- Pain-relievers such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Benadryl, and Tylenol
- Cough syrups
- Antacids. Consult their physician if they have any health challenges that could interfere with the administration of antacids
- Activated charcoal pills
- Immune system boosters
- Lip gloss
- Insect Repellants
- Instant cold ice packs
- Salt packets for water and electrolyte retention
- Scissors or Trauma Shears
- CPR Masks
- Surgical gloves
- Safety pins
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Fingernail cutter
- Needles and Threads
- Magnifying lens
- First-aid booklet or manual
How Much Should Senior Survival Kits and First Aid Kits Weigh?
First aid kits weigh less when only the basic things are included. For senior survival kits, minimize the contents, since seniors don’t have the strength to carry many items. They may need a helping hand to transport emergency supplies. To make things easier, for example, seniors can store all their emergency supplies in a backpack they can connect to the back of their wheelchairs.
What Is The Best Evacuation Option For Seniors?
Staying with relatives or friends outside the emergency zone is the best evacuation option for elderly relatives. Staying in a hotel can be an excellent substitute.
Attempting to weather the storm at a public emergency shelter is the absolute last thing a senior should do. Most shelters don’t have facilities to house evacuees with special needs. People with special needs are frequently not accommodated in these shelters. Make a plan for transportation if a senior cannot drive alone, and make sure they have a nearby caregiver who can accompany them during the evacuation.
Families must make arrangements for pre-admittance prior to departure if their loved one has unique medical needs and their doctor advises evacuating to a hospital or other medical facility. They will need a pre-admission letter from their doctor stating that their loved one is to be sent to a certain hospital or nursing home in order to accomplish this. As they evacuate, make sure seniors bring this letter with them.
How Do They Take Care of Their Pets In Time of Emergency?
Make sure the pet is microchipped if their loved one has one so that, in the event that they become separated during the evacuation, they may be found more quickly. The ideal situation for elderly pet owners is to stay with family and friends, but if there are no close family or friends, booking a room at a pet-friendly hotel might be a wonderful alternative. Public emergency shelters do not allow pets, with the exception of service animals.
Seniors could also think about boarding their pets if that is an option. Study the out-of-town lodging possibilities along the intended evacuation route, and make sure to phone ahead to confirm there is space before dropping off the pet. Include pet care materials like a leash and enough pet food in the senior’s emergency kit, along with vaccination records and other necessary papers.
Is It Better To Buy A Kit Or Make Their Own?
For people unable to gather all the various items on their own, purchasing a kit can be the preferred choice. Although purchasing a kit saves a ton of time and work, some people decide to make their own kit with their chosen brands. It’s worth the time and trouble to acquire a kit.
What Can Seniors Do During A Building Fire Emergency?
DON’T IGNORE THE FIRE ALARM: The first thing they should do is grab their room keys, tell everyone around, and leave.
- Act quickly but try to stay calm.
- Stay low in case of smoke or fumes. If in bed, roll off the bed and crawl towards the door.
- Save time by not getting dressed or searching for valuables.
- If they aren’t adequately trained, don’t attempt to put out a fire. Leave firefighting to the experts.
- To alert anyone who may be asleep, shout. “Fire! Everyone out!”
- Place newspapers, clothing, or towels in the door cracks to keep smoke out.
- Open the door gently even if it’s cool. In case smoke or fumes leak around the entrance, take a low stance to one side.
- If heat and smoke enter, slam the door firmly, fill any spaces with clothing, towels, or newspaper to keep the smoke out, and use a different exit.
- To escape by a window, ensure the room’s other windows and doors are shut tightly. If not, the draft from the open window may bring fire and smoke into the space.
These fire safety outreach materials can provide even more examples of senior fire safety.
If there is no smoke in the corridor, calmly head toward the closest fire exit and leave the building.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Elevators are typically connected to a fire detection system, and if the alarm goes off, residents cannot use them.
- Keep low to avoid any possible smoke, fumes, or highly heated gases.
- As they leave, shut doors to help contain fire as much as possible.
- Pull the fire alarm while exiting the building if it isn’t already going off.
Senior survival kits and emergency evacuation plans can give seniors and their caregivers peace of mind. That could make all the difference to seniors in poor health and with limited resources.