Be Prepared: Tips for Planning for Emergencies for Older Adults
Recent emergencies from hurricanes in the South to the devastating Wine Country fires in California are reminders that it is important to plan for natural disasters. This is especially important for older adults, their families, and their communities. Each person has unique abilities and needs, and it is important to understand how an emergency might affect your individual needs. For example, if you have a medical condition that requires special medication, consider that you may not have access to a drugstore for some time after a disaster. It is crucial that you think about what kinds of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if those resources are limited or unavailable.
Government agencies including FEMA, the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security, recommend that you prepare an emergency kit with the basics needed for survival including water (one gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days), a three-day supply of non-perishable food, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, local maps, pet food and extra water for your pet or service animal. Older adults should consider if they need a more personalized list of what they should bring with them including medications, eyeglasses, hearing aids and extra batteries, walker, and/or other assistive devices. It is also recommended that you should prepare an emergency travel kit that is ready in case of quick departure.
Next, seniors need to make a plan for what to do in an emergency, the Administration of Aging suggests:
- Develop a family communication plan so that the whereabouts and well-being of every family member is reported to a key person(s) during a disaster;
- Plan how to keep informed of developments in the disaster situation by telephone, cell phone, computer, radio, television, or newspaper;
- Identify a meeting place away from home that is reasonably familiar and convenient for all family members. For those members that no longer drive, be sure to determine how they will get to the meeting place; and,
- Secure vital documents—have readily accessible in a binder, file or electronically copies of prescriptions, photo identification, copies of essential documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, Social Security card, insurance cards, and legal documents such as your Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive).
Finally, you may want to consider receiving your benefits, like Social Security or pensions, electronically. A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. Switching to electronic benefits prevents the possibility of delay due to mail disruption and eliminates the risk of stolen checks.
For more information on preparing a kit of emergency supplies or making a plan you can visit www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY. If you have questions about the legal documents that you should include in your vital documents such as a Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive, please visit our website at www.SanJoseElderLaw.com, or call (408) 286-2122 to schedule a free consultation.