Updated: Jul 17
The senior population is growing at an alarming rate, and this means that there is also a greater need for emergency preparedness when it comes to the elderly. In fact, according to the American Red Cross, there are nearly 70 million people over the age of 50 in the United States alone.
This means that there are more seniors living alone than ever before. Unfortunately, this also means that there are many older adults who find themselves in dangerous situations after natural disasters or during other emergency situations.
As such, it’s important to stay informed about potential hazards, as well as take some simple precautionary steps to ensure you or your loved ones can remain safe in any situation. For families and loved ones, is important to know what to do in case of an emergency and how to stay safe.
Practicing emergency drills with family members, caregivers, and seniors is essential. Revisiting the procedures at least 2-3 times a year will be advantageous to the family and older adults in case of a disaster. Having a designated place to meet and preparing an emergency backpack with blankets, socks, first aide kits, water and snacks can be less stressful when the need arises.
Know the Senior-Friendly Exercises for Emergencies
You may think that the only way to stay strong and fit is through rigorous aerobic exercises and lifting weights. While this may be true, it’s also important to know some senior-friendly exercises that can help you become more prepared for an emergency situation. For example, stretching exercises can help you to stay limber and ready for any emergency, particularly in your hands and wrists.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, it’s important that you are able to move your body freely while also maintaining a level of strength. This means that you should keep up with your strength training, but also try to incorporate stretches and yoga poses into your exercise routine as well.
Dailly chair exercises with the head and neck - rotating or turning the head from side to side would be a good starting point. Sitting up tall in your chair and working on arm, abdomen, thigh, legs, and feet exercises for at least 30 minutes will not only keep the blood moving, but build the strength in case of immediate evacuation.
Establish a Meeting Place and Communication Chain
When disaster strikes and you need to be rescued, you need to be prepared for how and when this will happen. With so many people being transported via helicopter, you need to let rescue crews know where you are and how to find you as quickly as possible.
This can be done by establishing and marking a meeting place with reflective materials. In addition, you should also create a communication chain between yourself and your loved ones. This communication chain can include a variety of members from your household, including caregivers, pets, and seniors.
Essentially, this chain is used to relay important information to each member of your household, as well as to emergency personnel.
Keep Emergency Supplies Nearby
It’s important to keep a variety of emergency supplies nearby, particularly if you live alone or are caring for an elderly loved one. These supplies can include everything from a first aid kit to a fire extinguisher. You may also want to keep some food and water stocked in your house, particularly if the power goes out and you need to be self-sufficient.
Furthermore, you should also keep your phone charged at all times, and keep a list of important phone numbers and information in an accessible location. This way, you can easily look up important phone numbers when you need to, such as the number to your power company or local police station.
Food and water supply for 3 days is a good rule of thumb. Keeping a ration for 72 hours as mandated for healthcare facilities is equally important for seniors living at home. The first aid kit should also include a list of all medications both prescribed and over the counter (OTC) and emergency contact numbers. Batteries and flashlights are a good addition, along with a blanket, gloves, and socks.
If seniors need a wheelchair to help them, be sure to take the cane and walker as you leave the room or building. This will make it easier when you reach a designated area and are capable or standing or transferring to a seated position.
Install an Emergency Alert System
As you get older, it’s important to consider your safety and that of your loved ones. For example, if you have a senior loved one who struggles walking or is visually impaired, you need to think about their safety. You may want to consider installing an emergency alert system, such as the LifeAlert system.
These systems come equipped with a variety of safety devices, including a pendant that can be worn around the neck, an emergency button that can be pressed from a wheelchair or bed, or a wristband that can be worn 24/7. With one of these devices, you can easily communicate with emergency personnel, as well as loved ones nearby.
Remain in Your Home and Stay Out of Harm’s Way
It’s important to stay out of harm’s way when you are in an emergency situation. For example, if a hurricane is coming your way, you need to know when to evacuate and where to go. This is especially important if you are caring for an elderly loved one or are living with a disability.
You need to know where to go and when to go there so that you can remain safe. Furthermore, if you are in your home during an emergency, it’s important to remain calm and be prepared. You should have a plan in place for when the power goes out, for the 3 days supply of flood and water.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, the best thing you can do is remain calm, informed, and prepared. This means knowing what types of emergencies are most common in your area, knowing what to do when one occurs, and having the supplies necessary to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. With these tips, you can be sure that you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
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