Disasters can happen anytime, anyplace to anyone, but as a resident of Florida it is important to approach hurricane season fully prepared with a plan especially for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or other memory impairments. Disasters can be particularly disruptive to the daily living of older adults and their caregivers. An emergency can exacerbate the effects of damage or loss. An interruption of services or treatments can dramatically effect the behavior of one suffering from any form of dementia. While there is nothing that can be done to prevent a disaster, a well thought out proactive emergency disaster/evacuation plan can help minimize the stress to both the person with memory impairment and the caregiver.
Take Specific Needs Into Account or Make a Specific Plan
For example, if the person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia uses a walker or portable oxygen, be sure your emergency evacuation plans accommodate these needs. If the person receives routine health procedures at a clinic or with home health, request a copy of their emergency plan. Have all clinical contact information easily accessible.
Caregivers should pack a bag with something comforting to the person with memory impairments, incontinence undergarments, wipes, lotions, favorite snacks and high-nutrient drinks, physician’s name, address, and phone number, copies of legal, medical, insurance, and Social Security information. Include a zip lock bag to hold medications, personal health records, documents and recent photos of the person.
Enroll Person with Memory Impairment in Safety Program
Contact your local Alzheimer’s Support Network and find out what wandering programs they offer. Some examples include: MedicAlert, Safe Return, and Comfort Zone, all designed to manage flight risk persons with dementia. A caregiver may want to also have a bag of recently worn clothing on hand for the search dogs to be able to track a scent.
For more information about Hurricane Shelters in your area or to get a complimentary Alzheimer’s disaster preparedness starter kit, contact your local Nurse On Call Branch at: (239) 643-9940.