Disaster situations, such as hurricanes, can have a significant impact on everyone’s safety, but they can be especially upsetting and confusing for individuals with dementia. Being prepared in case of an emergency is crucial. Now — as the peak of the North Atlantic hurricane season approaches is a good time to develop an emergency disaster plan.
It is essential to prepare early so items you need are easily accessible before and after a storm. Along with the Red Cross hurricane preparation tips, the Alzheimer’s Association has some additional things to consider when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
- Make an emergency plan.
- Take specific needs, like walkers or portable oxygen, into account. Make sure emergency evacuation plans accommodate these needs.
- Identify those who will help you, such as friends and relatives, as well as back-up health care providers.
- Learn how to get prescriptions and care. Medicare beneficiaries have special rights to get out-of-network care if they live in an area where the President has declared a disaster.
- Consider enrolling the person in a safety programs like MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return.
- Make sure medical records are accessible, especially to alternative caregivers and relatives.
- Know your evacuation route.
- If you have a cell phone, store your emergency contact numbers including your local Alzheimer’s Association. Have an additional pre-charged battery.
- Pre-register at your county’s special needs shelter in case you need to evacuate to a shelter.
Every person, young and old, should have a disaster supply kit on hand in the event of an emergency. Along with the Red Cross suggested supplies like flashlights, batteries and water the Alzheimer’s Association recommends a few extra items to keep on hand when caring for a person with dementia during a hurricane.
- Copies of important documents, such as legal papers, list of medications and insurance information.
- Several sets of clothing.
- Extra medications.
- Incontinence products.
- ID items medic alert, clothing labels, state-issued identification card.
- A recent picture of the person with dementia.
Tips for Caregivers
Families and caregivers of persons with memory disorders need to know how to address the special needs of a person with Alzheimer’s during an emergency. Here are some tips for preventing and handling agitation during a hurricane.
- Reassure the person. Hold hands or put your arm on his or her shoulder. Say things are going to be fine.
- Find outlets for anxious energy. Take a walk together or engage the person in simple tasks.
- Redirect the person’s attention if he or she becomes upset.
- Move the person to a safer or quieter place, if possible. Limit stimulation.
- Make sure the person takes medications as scheduled.
- Schedule regular meals and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Pay attention to cues that the person may be overwhelmed (fidgeting, pacing).
- If the person is agitated remember to use calm, positive statements and respond to the emotions expressed rather than the content of the words.
- Avoid detailed explanations.
- Provide additional assistance with all activities of daily living.
In the event of a hurricane, it is important to remember that you are not alone and help is available.