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DISASTER PREPARATION FOR ALZHEIMER CAREGIVERS
Since it is June, the beginning of Hurricane Season here in the South, I thought this would be an ideal time to provide everyone with valuable information on disaster preparation when you have the added difficulty of caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease. Those of you in other parts of the country can also benefit from this information – no area is immune from some type of disaster, whether it is a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, wildfire, or blizzard.
The two basic concerns when caring for an AD patient during an emergency are to find a safe haven and to keep the person as free from agitation as possible. At the end of this blog, I will list links to sites that provide numerous valuable resources.
1. DO NOT WAIT. Obviously, no one can forecast an earthquake, but hurricane, blizzard, and wildfire warnings are issued up to 5 days in advance. Call the Alzheimer’s Association Hotline (800-272-3900) as soon as a problem is forecast. Find out what services are available in your area to help Alzheimer patients in storm emergencies. Many communities have “Special Needs Shelters”, but they are prioritized based on the most severe needs. If you do have to go to a shelter – REMEMBER TO TAKE THE MEDICATIONS – AT LEAST A WEEK’S WORTH.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR SPOUSE IS ENROLLED IN A WANDERING PROGRAM – There are many – Safe Return and Project Lifesaver are two, but there are others. This should have been done at diagnosis, but if you have not enrolled, do so immediately. Things can get very hectic during an evacuation, and there is the possibility of your spouse wandering away.
3.KEEP THE AD PATIENT AS CALM AS POSSIBLE – Considering many of us “well” spouses can get pretty panicked when there is no electricity, no air conditioning, and storm shutters have us buried in a coffin-like, claustrophobic atmosphere, the effect on an AD patient can be catastrophic. If a soothing voice, hand holding, and gentle stroking are not working, go for the medication. And some for your spouse too!
4. DOOR HANDLE SIGNS FOR AFTER THE STORM – Your local Alzheimer chapter should have brightly colored door handle signs that signal relief workers who check neighborhoods after the storm, that a person with dementia is living in your house and needs special assistance.
These are just the very basic of tips. Click on these links for extensive, detailed information.
Hurricane Disaster and Preparedness Planning – South Florida, but information is good for all hurricane areas.
Alzheimer’s Association Disaster Preparedness . You will need to scroll down to the disaster section.
From the National Institute on Aging Website - Natural Disaster Safety
STAY SAFE, EVERYONE! If you do not have to prepare for any impending storms, enjoy your Labor Day Weekend.
If you have any additional information or tips, please post them under the Message Board Topic: Disaster Preparation for the AD patient and spouse.
Feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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