By Alice Endy
Living along the Gulf of Mexico, on the west coast of Florida,
we become concerned with Hurricane season starting about
this time every year.In lieu of the past two seasons with
devastating storms we are especially concerned.
People frequently think about one type of disaster like
hurricanes--however there are numerous other possiblities
that might require evacuation--tornadoes,fire, floods, gas
leaks, earthquakes, extreme heat, power outages,chemical
or biological agents, and wind.
As a Nurse working in the field of eldercare, in a Private
Duty Home Health Agency, we are required by law to
ensure that our clients have a workable evacuation plan.
Each plan must be updated annually or anytime clients'
This is a challenging responsibility especially with some of
the Frail Elderly. There are two groups of the Frail
Elderly that really present a problem. One is those that
require some help at home to ensure that they are placed
in a shelter that is able to meet their needs.The second group
are those that are still alert enough to express their needs
and wants, however, they are at a stage where they
frequently make irrational decisions for themselves.
This is the the most challenging group to get to see the
need for any planning.
They think they are still able to do their own medications even
when shown the mistakes that they are making.
They talk to solicitors on the phone and frequently allow them
into their home.
They are unable to comprehend the symptoms of illness and
often deny them.
Frequently they cancel doctor visits because they "forgot"
that they are not feeling well.
They ignore warnings of impending dangers such as
They cannot foresee the reality of being without electricity
or water for days.
IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME-- is a common belief .
Making emergency plans for this group is almost an art or,
at least requires a lot of prayer.
Things needed for evacuation:
1) Vital data records-
name,address,telephone number of the elder
name,address,telephone number of the doctor
name and number of emergency contacts-family
name and number of caregiver or private duty agency
name,telephone number of pharmacy
2) Complete Updated Medication list-- we maintain this
list for our clients.
3) Health history records.
These forms are available in "Assisting Your Elderly Parents"
4) Medications for at least three days.
5) Clothes for at least three days.
6) Equipment and supplies--such as
Oxygen , Wheelchair , walker , incontinent supplies, personal
7) Most shelters only provide a cot--the following items must be
taken to the shelter--sheets, pillows, blanket, a comfortable
lawn chair, snack items, special diet items.
8) Cash in small bills and coins.
9) Flashlight with plenty of extra batteries.
Plans for pets must be made --most shelters do not accept
pets. Those that do require that the pet be in a pet carrier.
Pet food, collar, leash, and shot record must accompany the pet.
As you can see, this is not something most frail elderly can
manage by themselves. It is imperative that someone be
assigned to assist in establishing the plan, gathering all the
necessities, having them ready at all times, packing and
transporting the elder to the shelter.
If your parent tells you that they have a plan ask them where
they will be going (so you can check.)
Many frail elderly think they have things under control but
when you look further you will see that most of their plan is
based on old information--such as
1)" I am going with Mable( neighbor ) to her
daughters" -- only to discover that the daughter
does not live here any more.
2) "My condo has their own plan for everybody"--only
to find out that they have told your mother that she
requires more care than the condo will assume,
however she has forgotten.
3) "the condo manager is going to take me to the shelter"--
only to find out that the manager is away for a month or
the manager is not going to do the packing.
For the elderly that will be staying home during bad weather
the following important ADDITIONAL items will be needed:
1) Water - one gallon per/day per person. Do not forget to
include the caregiver if applicable.
2) Several flashlights placed throughout the home
with several extra batteries.
Be sure you remove any candles from the home so they
will not be used.
3) A hand operated can opener
4) Plastic bags,twist ties,tape.
5) Battery operated radio with extra batteries.
6) Paper towels,wet wipes for personsal use.
7) Non-perishable foods--Tuna,peanut butter,jelly,
canned fruit,canned meat,crackers,Special Diet Needs !!
If your elderly family member is too frail to go to a shelter
then they must apply with the county Emergency
Management Department to be evacuated to a special
needs shelter or area nursing home. BUT you must
register now --not during an emergency. Once registered,
the county will call your family member before
evacuation to give them a pick up time--THEY MUST BE
READY--Emergency workers are not going to pack.
Again, if you do not live in the same town as your frail
elderly parent, please make sure someone is assuming
the responsibility for all that getting ready entails.
If I may be of any assistance in caring for your elder
family member, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Dedicated To Eldercare
Alice Endy is a Registered Nurse with certification in
in Gerontology. Alice has spent her entire nursing
career in the care of the elderly. Being a sought
after speaker and consultant she spends most of her
free time researching trends and changes in eldercare