Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Offers Emergency Preparedness Tips to Families Living with Alzheimer’s
(September 8, 2017)— With Hurricane Irma approaching the US mainland, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is providing important emergency preparedness information to help families living with Alzheimer’s get ready in case the storm strikes their area.
“Millions of people around the country are bracing for Hurricane Irma and taking steps to get ready, including families affected by Alzheimer’s,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President & CEO. “In addition to standard emergency preparedness steps, such as preparing a ‘go kit’, there are additional, unique needs that someone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s should take into account to help them stay safe. Following a few simple steps will go a long way to ensure that caregivers are prepared to weather the storm.”
AFA is offering the following tips to caregivers who are in an area that is potentially in the path of Hurricane Irma. These tips are in addition to any other emergency preparedness steps or actions advised by first responders or emergency management agencies.
In advance of the storm:
- Make copies of important health, legal and insurance documentation, as well as contact information for your loved one’s doctors.
- Be sure to have medications, a list of medications, doses, dietary restrictions, allergies and other medical information on hand. Inquire about getting additional refills in advance of the storm with your loved one’s doctor.
- Store all documents and medications in waterproof bags. Bring them with you if you are evacuating the area.
- Make sure another family member also has access to the person’s medical history, medication list, and physician contact information.
- Download Medicare’s Getting Medical Care and Prescription Drugs in a Disaster or Emergency Area It explains the options available to Medicare beneficiaries to get the care or services they need if they live in a declared disaster area.
- Have some small, familiar items handy that bring comfort and reduce stress to the person living with Alzheimer’s, such as family photos, a favorite stuffed animal or an iPod/portable music player with familiar songs.
- If your loved one is in a residential facility, find out the facility’s plan if an evacuation is ordered.
- If your loved one receives home care, inquire with the home care provider about what the backup or contingency plans are to deliver services.
- If you must evacuate, choose the method of travel and time of travel that provides the most comfort and least anxiety to the greatest extent possible. If the person uses a walker or portable oxygen, be sure your evacuation plan accommodates those needs.
- If you are traveling via mass transit or are staying in a hotel or shelter, advise them that you are traveling with someone who has dementia.
- Do your best to maintain the person’s normal routine; eat, sleep and take medications at the same time as a regular day.
- Prepare ID information, such as a contact card, that an individual living with Alzheimer’s can keep on them in case they become separated from their caregiver. Be sure to include a local emergency contact person on the card who first responders can call, as well as someone who lives outside the area in case local communications become disabled.
During the storm:
- Pay attention to cues that the person may be overwhelmed, scared or upset.
- Do what you can to reassure your loved one and keep them calm; holds hands or put your arms on their shoulders.
- Try to limit stimulation as much as possible; try to stay in a quiet place.
- Have familiar comfort items (photos, stuffed animals, etc.) handy to help reduce stress and anxiety.
- If the individual becomes upset, try to redirect their attention to something positive.
- Try to maintain regular daily routines as much as possible (meals, medications and rest).
Caregivers should also pay close attention to the instructions issued by first responders, local governments and emergency management offices in their area and have the contact information for those agencies on hand should they have any questions.
AFA’s national, toll-free helpline, which is staffed entirely by licensed, trained social workers, is available to provide information, assistance and support to caregivers to the greatest extent possible. AFA’s social workers can be reached through the helpline at 866-232-8484.