Natural Disaster and Seniors

How to Protect Older Adults During a Natural Disaster
Hurricane Evacuation Route

Protect older adults during a natural disaster by following these tips:

  • Try not to watch the news incessantly or in front of the person you're caring for -- it can make anyone who already feels vulnerable (including children) nervous and anxious. Quietly gather supplies, and don't wait too long. It's best to give yourself plenty of time and not rush. Know where you're going -- shelter, hotel, other family member's house -- and let others know your A, B, and C plans.

  • Keep medications in grab-and-go containers for quick evacuation. If your loved ones have certain conditions and you fear you may be separated, write on their arm or leg with a marker pen, noting when they need to take their medications, what condition they have, and any other important details.

  • Make sure you have a copy of all insurance/medical information -- as well as home insurance information -- since you may not be able to get back into the house to get policies.

  • Have a backup person (neighbor, close friend who lives nearby) who knows it's his or her job to check on and, if need be, evacuate your loved one. This is particularly important if you're a long-distance caregiver or if you work full-time.

  • If you do need to evacuate, write with marker pen or lipstick where you've gone and who's with you on your front door. That way you'll spare other family members, friends, and neighbors unnecessary panic and worry that you and your loved ones can't be found.

  • Be specific. When things get hectic, it's only natural to feel uncertain. Give explicit instructions ("Get mom and go to X-shelter," or "Mom, get your purse and your cane. We're going to X-location."). Aim to sound calm but authoritative, so that your loved ones feel safe and know exactly what they need to do.

Carol O'Dell

Carol D. See full bio

almost 5 years ago, said...

Fortunately I am in an area not usually prone to natural disasters. My problem is - my mom has severe Alzheimer's, is bedridden in s hospital bed - I wouldn't get her out of it if I wanted to! She doesn't like or understand anything we do for her for her own good.... - would my only option be to call an ambulance to help with her? She is in hospice care, and has been for a year now.....

almost 5 years ago, said...

It is always good to be reminded of the things to do before evacuation or the threat of natural problems. We keep a "Bug Out" bag in my home and two blocks away at Mom's. Each carries all the necessities for our medical life. Medications, dressings, first aid equipment as well as some crackers, candy, and of course water. It is geared for three adults and one German Shepherd dog. I also have extra E-Cylinders for Mom's O2 needs. The "essential" bags sit right under the desk by my front door and next the the chair by Mom's front door. We can grab and go. We have flash flood problems and earthquakes around me.

almost 5 years ago, said...

Very clear and to the point instructions. Unsure how I would feel about marking on my front door where I've gone and who is with me..... but in the case of a hurricane hitting land, I suppose the situation would warrant it. Difficult to think about being separated from your loved one that you care for in an emergency.

almost 6 years ago, said...

Thanks for this article My name is mia G vayner I am founder /authour of a International blog advocating for the rights of the disabled I live in New York But travel exstensively so I write on the abuse of disabled rights where ever they are during Irene we were stuck in queens directly in irenes path and I am the patient in a Wheelchair ,My partner was stressing badly on what to do and not to do if we had to evacuate. once again thankyou