ARTICLES / General / Disaster
Preparedness for Elder Loved Ones/
Itís no secret that a large
percentage of deaths in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans were
our sick and our elderly. Even institutions built to
safeguard our elderly loved ones were ill-equipped to
handle a disaster of this magnitude.
In his September 19, 2005 report, New York Times
reporter David Rohde exposes Katrinaís impact on nursing
homes and hospitals. About 60% of nursing homes failed
to evacuate successfully before the storm hit. Many
nursing home operators feared their frailest residents
would die on the buses leaving town. So far, more than
150 of the deaths in New Orleans were patients in
hospitals and nursing homes.
This report should be a wake-up call to all families
with elderly loved ones. What would happen in the event
of a major earthquake? Or even in other areas of the US
where unanticipated disasters such as tornados, floods
or fires could occur. The damage could be even more
extensive due to the element of surprise.
No one likes to plan for the worst. However, objectively
considering the possibility of a disaster and developing
a contingency plan is exactly whatís needed to offset
the tremendous impact such an event could have on our
elderly loved ones and on us. Even if your loved one
resides in an assisted-living facility, there is no
guarantee the employees would elevate your loved oneís
interest ahead of their own familyís safety. Indeed, you
may be called upon to transport and care for your loved
one until the situation stabilizes.
Are you prepared to care for your loved one? Do you have
a weekís supply of their daily medications? How will you
transport your loved one?