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Emergency Preparedness for Seniors

Senior Preppers

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Emergency Preparedness for Seniors is becoming increasingly important with the increased proportion of seniors in society.  Heat-waves, flooding, forest fires and other extreme events associated with climate change can affect everyone but the elderly are particularly susceptible to disaster conditions.

8 Areas to Consider If  You Are Creating A Seniors’ Emergency Preparedness Plan

I will not repeat material about storing water and non-perishable food and having a flashlight and appropriate tools because, of course, you have seen those items elsewhere in this site! I am going to deal with considerations that specifically affect senior citizens.

Medications

Health is a major consideration in preparing for the comfort and safety of seniors so your Emergency Preparedness Plan should include:

a. List

Many seniors are taking a fairly complex set of medications – and might not remember all the details, especially in times of stress, so it is important that all the necessary information is recorded for someone who is trying to help. This list should show:

  • each medication (e.g. Loperamide)
  • required dose (e.g. ½ tablet)
  • its dosing schedule (e.g. 3 times a day) and
  • any special instructions (e.g. “before meals”)
  • its purpose (e.g. “to deal with side-effect X of another drug” so if the other drug is stopped this should be stopped, or in case someone has to provide an alternative

b. Supply

  1. Stockpile a backup supply of prescription medications (with the doctor’s help and supervision) – if possible as much as a month’s supply. Keep an eye on expiry dates and make sure you are rotating through your supply using the oldest first.
  2. Investigate and, if possible, experiment with the natural alternatives to your medications that might carry you through an emergency in the absence of your regular medication. (You could look, for example, at The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green)
  3. Provide a reasonable stock of over-the-counter medications to deal with:
  • Pain relief – varying depending on the causes of the pain, e.g. arthritis versus acid indigestion versus muscle stiffness
  • Cold/flu relief, e.g. throat lozenges
  • Indigestion relief

See the section on First Aid kits for a comprehensive list of possibilities

Toiletries

  • Favorite/familiar soap
  • Shampoo
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothpaste & brush, Dental floss
  • Hairbrush, comb
  • Nail file, emery board
  • Face cloth
  • Small towel
  • Sun-screen
  • Insect repellent

Hygiene & Sanitary Arrangements (as needed)

  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Incontinence-wear
  • Emesis bags
  • Bed pans and bed pads
  • Urinals
  • Plastic bags for waste disposal

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Physical Aids (as needed)

a. Mobility Aids (as light/strong as possible)

  • Walking stick. Crutches
  • Walking frame
  • Wheelchair

b. Other aids

  • Oxygen. Asthma pump
  • Hearing aid(s) plus spare batteries
  • Dentures plus supplies
  • Glasses (spare pair) Dark glasses
  • Magnifying glass (or a Fresnel lens)
  • grab sticks, long handled sponges etc.

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Temperature Control

  • Seasonal clothes – socks, gloves, woolly hat or sun hat
  • Shawl or Space blanket
  • Hand warmers and foot warmers
  • Fan. Hand or battery operated (with spare batteries)

Documents

Medications list, see above

Contact information

  • own name and address
  • doctor(s) with their specialties
  • family members,
  • clergyman,
  • banker/financial representative
  • Holder of your Durable power of attorney that enables a trusted person to handle your affairs if you become mentally incapable.  This may include resuscitation orders (“do not resuscitate”), organ donation information, healthcare proxy or other medical decisions, copies of your medical and other insurance
  • Social Security Number(s)

Familiarity

  • Laminated photos of loved ones
  • Bible / Rosary / Other religious items

Entertainment

  • Playing cards
  • A couple of paperback favorite books
  • Travelling chess set

Senior Preppers – Some Further Thoughts

Older people are more vulnerable for a number of reasons:

  • Tend to live alone because of children leaving home, spouse/friends dying, etc.
  • Tend to live in more dangerous places, e.g. financially comfortable retirees are attracted to coastal areas (one in five residents of Florida is a senior) or the elderly poor who lived in flood zones.
  • Least likely to react/evacuate timeously. (Often can’t drive or find taking public transport difficult but in general reluctant to embrace a difficult new situation.)
  • Disproportionately likely to die because of compromised physical stamina/health or inability to get out of harm’s way due to compromised mobility

It is desirable, therefore, that Seniors have an emergency preparedness plan in place.  Of course, Seniors come in as many different forms as Juniors and this article will be making an important distinction between two very different groups:

Making-My-Own-Plan Senior Preppers

Seniors who are reasonably fit and in possession of their faculties and fully capable of organizing their own preparedness plan

Depending-On-You Senior Preppers

Seniors who are frail, mentally and/or physically and whose plans depend on their loved ones making emergency preparedness plans for them.

If you are in the Making-My-Own-Plan group you might want to browse through the material in this article and select the ideas that are useful to you.

Perhaps the five thoughts that will apply exclusively to you Making-My-Own-Plan-ers:

Senior Preppers – Value What You Have To Offer

By reason of your age, you are likely to have had more experience of difficult situations than younger people, times of crises and privation, and it might well be that you have some useful skills and considerations to pass on, at the very least by providing an example of what good preparedness looks like.

Create Your Own Personal Support Community

As mentioned above one of the reasons older people are vulnerable is that they are statistically more likely to be alone. We tend to hark back romantically to the days of small communities and everyone looking out for each other but it is important to be proactive and create your own personal support community or network in advance of a crisis. It could be your family, neighbors, old friends or a prepping community that you join – and make sure the relationship is mutually advantageous. The details of how you use this community will vary widely but basically, you want to give each other two types of support (or create two different groups for the different types of support):

Daily keeping-an-eye-on-each other

  • Undertake to be aware of each other’s movements – maybe “It is odd that X’s lights are not on though I am sure they are at home”, “odd that Y hasn’t collected their newspaper this morning”. Much better to have numerous false alarms than to have someone lying on their kitchen floor for 24 hours after having had a stroke because their neighbors did not want to be intrusive;
  • Maybe have a check in time, even with only one person – who will be alerted if you don’t check in;
  • Let each other know when you are going to be away from home;
  • Make sure people in your network have copies of your keys
  • Make sure that the people in your network have your personal emergency numbers (doctor, family) as well as the formal Emergency Number(s).

Emergency Preparedness Plan for Senior Preppers

  • Spend time together discussing various possible emergency situations and creating clear arrangements in response to the various scenarios.
  • Make a communication plan (and don’t count on the telephone to be working)
  • Arrange for someone check in on you/have you check in on them in an emergency.

Senior Preppers – Research Your Local Or National Disaster Relief Arrangements and Facilities

If you are lucky enough to be living in a place where the state, city or local organizations have plans in place for dealing with emergencies you should be fully aware of what these arrangements consist of and how you, as a senior citizen, could access various sorts of help in an emergency. In the USA you would look at information from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Make sure you are fully informed about possible arrangements for the elderly, for example,

  • Some states (such as Florida) have laws providing evacuation assistance for individuals with special needs – could save your life during an emergency if your friends and family are not able to help you, so check out these services. Register with your local emergency management agency before a disaster hits!
  • Many states set up Special Needs Shelters for medically dependent residents. These shelters are typically staffed by medical personnel. You are still expected to bring your own medications, equipment, and caregiver, but there will be more support than in your typical shelter.

Maintain A Health And Exercise Program

It seems embarrassingly patronizing to mention it, though most sites concerned with prepping for the elderly do, apparently without qualms. In an emergency, being able to walk, possibly for miles, could be critical to your survival. It could very well be a good idea to:

  • GET FIT
  • STAY IN SHAPE
  • LOOK AFTER YOUR HEALTH
  • WATCH YOUR WEIGHT
  • KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY or however else you want to say it!

Of course anno domini gets to us all and various bits and pieces start to work less efficiently as the years go by but attention to all those things the doctors have been telling us about diet and exercise can make all the difference if you are in a profound emergency situation. Enough said! This is not your site for diet and exercise information.

Senior Prepper’s Kits For An Emergency AKA ‘Boomer Bags’

Consider preparing two bags for yourself or your beloved senior and keeping them standing by for deployment if and when they are necessary.

BAG 1 – The Hospital Bag

This bag is something like the one that an expectant mother prepares before the birth of her baby – essentials for her and the baby that are not supplied by the hospital. It contains things like underwear, favorite toiletries and moisturizing cream, spare reading glasses, reading matter, etc. The lists below might give you further ideas for items that would make you or your Senior more comfortable in the first 24 hours of a hospital stay.

BAG 2 – The Non-Hospital Crises Bag

This bag needs to be bigger and more comprehensive in its contents – preferably with wheels and preferably not huge and cumbersome. (It would be sad to have to leave it behind because in the major crises you were being evacuated on foot!)

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Sources:

  • survivalsullivan.com/ultimate-guide-prepping-seniors/
  • happypreppers.com/seniors.html
  • Prepping for Seniors
  • modernsurvivalonline.com/prepping-for-seniors/
  • Prepping for Senior Citizens if SHTF Pat HenryOctober 16, 2014
  • theprepperjournal.com/2014/10/16/prepping-for-senior-citizens-shtf/
  • graywolfsurvival.com/2502/how-should-a-senior-citizen-prepare-for-shtf/
  • primalsurvivor.net/prepping-tips-elderly/
  • Crucial Disaster Prepping Tips for the Elderly – January 7, 2020 by Diane Vuković
  • beansbulletsbandagesandyou.com/bullets/2018/02/13/the-senior-prepper-six-special-considerations-for-the-elderly/

Kate P

I have always had an urge to “be ready’ for emergency situations. To my delight, I discovered the term “prepping” and that there is a community out there willing to learn and share information on a subject close to my heart. I also discovered how entwined self-sufficiency and homesteading are with prepping!

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