Caring for an Elder During a Big Storm

As mid-September rolls in, we are in the peek of hurricane season. With a total of 14 named storms at just about the halfway mark for the season, it’s clear we have a busy storm-season on our hands.

For those who care for an elderly or special-needs loved one, hurricane season is doubly stressful. Storms can knock out electricity and water for days, as well as make it difficult for transportation to reach where it is supposed to. Whether you are caring for your elderly loved one within your home, by regularly checking on their home, or by having them live at a home, you should have a set-in-stone protection plan.

Credit: National Council on Aging

This is especially important if you do not live with your elderly loved one. Create a network of individuals you trust to check in on your parents before, during, and after a hurricane. These individuals could be friends, family members, neighbors, or other caregivers. The closer they live, the better, as they won’t have to worry about hopping in a car and potentially navigating floodwaters during the thick of a storm.

It’s possible your loved one may have to shelter in place for several days. Make sure you have a kit of the essentials that is easy for them to access. Your emergency kit should include:

Credit: Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Prescription medications and OTC pain relievers
  • Drinking water (1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days)
  • Vitamin-rich snack bars, jerky, and other nonperishables
  • An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • A transistor radio
  • A first-aid kit
  • A good flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell phone with a charger and extra battery (consider purchasing a solar charger)
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, Social Security cards, Medicare cards, etc.)

Find an area of the home that would be the best location to protect your loved one from flying debris and floodwaters. The best options for this is a windowless inner bathroom or a large closet. The less windows, the better, as there is less a concern of debris entering the home.

If your local government calls upon a mandatory evacuation, you need to get on the road as soon as possible. Prepare a “go-bag” ahead of time (preferably one on wheels) so you can load up your family member and just go. This bad should have much of the same items as your emergency bag, but it should also include

Credit: US News
  • Important documents like birth certificates, insurance policies, Social Security cards, Medicare cards, bank information, the home deed, etc.
  • A list of current prescriptions, as well as doctor contact information
  • Updated immunization records
  • Lightweight, waterproof clothing that can be worn in layers

The key to caring for an elderly loved one in a storm can be broken down in just one word: preparation. If your loved one is properly prepared, handling such a stressful time will be much easier.

Mark Shalloway is an elder and special needs care attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida.