National Preparedness Month: Get tips on caring for older loved ones through natural disasters 

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year. This month, the Office of Resiliency will provide resources for all members of the Case Western Reserve University community to better prepare for a wide range of emergencies, including how to care for older loved ones through natural disasters.

A helpful method of proactively responding to an emergency is developing a checklist and preparing a kit with useful information and supplies related to your loved one’s needs. This can be quite challenging if they suffer from any disease or mental illness. If you are a family member or a caregiver, it is crucial to be proactive when taking care of a loved one during a disaster. 

After an emergency, they may not have access to clean water or electricity. By creating an emergency supply kit, you can make sure you have enough food, water and other items.

If they take daily medications or have any food restrictions, your kit should include: 

  • A current list of all medications and dosages
  • A 4 to 7-day supply of all medications
  • Medical equipment a loved one needs, such as oxygen or hearing aids
  • Insurance cards and benefit information, including:
    • Medicare
    • Social Security
    • Homeowner’s insurance
    • Flood insurance
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Non-sparking wrench or pliers to turn off utilities 
  • Hygiene products
  • Local maps

You can tailor the list to your loved one’s needs and put everything in a to-go kit. Your preparedness checklist should coincide with everything in your kit. It is important for us to consider how a loved one may respond to an emergency situation, react to an evacuation procedure and cope with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

If you would like to take it a step further, practice evacuation techniques with your loved ones so they are familiar with the process. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of stress on yourself and your loved one!

You can also consider:

  • Advocating for more formalized crisis training in your area;
  • Speaking with fellow caregivers through local or online support groups to learn what steps they have taken to prepare;
  • Talking with staff at hospitals or care facilities about emergency plans; and
  • Seeking counsel and guidance from a local place of worship.

It’s important to remember our loved ones matter and we can make a difference in their lives by remembering we are not alone. We have the power to impact their lives for the better and there are resources out there to help us do so.

Learn more at the American Red Cross and the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.