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Disaster Preparedness for Elder Loved Ones

By Dana Carr

(Page 1 of 3)

It’s 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 Katrina’s 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 what’s 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 one’s interest ahead of their own family’s 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 week’s supply of their daily medications? How will you transport your loved one?

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