People with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia especially can be vulnerable during disasters, such as severe weather, fires, floods, hurricanes and other emergency situations.
It is important for the caregivers of those afflicted to have a plan that includes the special needs of people with impairments in memory and reasoning that could severely limit their ability to act appropriately in a crisis.
In general, caregivers should be prepared to meet the needs of the family for three days to seven days, including having supplies and backup options when basic services like water or electricity, are lost, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross can provide information on how to make a general disaster preparedness plan.
And, the Administration for Community Living (ACL.gov) has a disaster planning toolkit for people with dementia.
Here are some tips from the NIA on how to plan ahead:
- Caregivers should consider the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s while assembling supplies for the disaster kit. All supplies should be stored in a watertight container. A kit could include: incontinence undergarments, wipes and lotions; a pillow, toy or something the person can hold onto; favorite snacks and high-nutrient drinks; recent photos of the person; and, medical documents and medications.
- If a move to a safer place is required, such as to a community shelter or someone’s home, caregivers should be sensitive to the Alzheimer’s patient’s emotions, by staying close, offering their hand, or giving reassuring hugs.
- While planning an evacuation, know how to get to the nearest emergency shelters; arrange with someone else for transport; make sure the person with Alzheimer’s wears an ID bracelet; take general supplies and disaster kit; keep neighbors, friends and family informed about your location; keep comforting items on hand; and keep your cellphone charged.
For more information, including what to do in the case of caregiver/patient separation, and how to prepare for disaster situations, consider contacting these organizations:
- NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center: Call (800) 438-4380; visit NIA.nih.gov/alzheimers or NIA.nih.gov/health/disaster-preparedness-alzheimers-caregivers; or, email .
- Family Caregiver Alliance: Call (800) 445-8106, visit Caregiver.org, or email .
• Eldercare Locator: Call (800) 677-1116, visit Eldercare.acl.gov, or email .
Published July 08, 2020