Being prepared works great for Boy Scouts, but can be much trickier of a concept when you’re talking about adults in the Cedar Rapids area with varying health conditions, including those receiving hospice care.
If you have family members or loved ones in these types of situations, it may require some different modifications to your personal emergency plans.
Luckily, Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice can help. We know that every family and every community is different and has different resources available, but we’re happy to encourage people to think about what they would do and where they would go if any sort of disaster strikes.
In the Iowa area, we’re probably not as likely to see earthquakes, volcanoes or tidal waves like those in coastal communities could encounter. But tornadoes or flooding are always possibilities along with extreme heat or cold. Plus, even an extended power outage can be devastating, as can a house fire.
That’s why it’s important to plan for all possibilities and make sure your family is prepared. Although state and federal agencies can eventually arrive and offer assistance, sometimes this takes a while to come together, so local people being well prepared is seen as the most effective option at the local level.
September is a perfect opportunity to learn more and be ready for anything. It’s National Preparedness Month, a federal effort to encourage individuals and communities to work together to plan ahead.
This year’s theme is “Prepared Not Scared,” and people are encouraged to be ready mentally, financially and physically for whatever will come, including putting some cash aside each paycheck in the event that ATMs are down.
A big part of preparation is being ready for any situation which either could keep you in your home safely without assistance or require you to evacuate and bring critical items with you.
Experts recommend having enough supplies to last two weeks, especially food and water. This is generally an estimate of the maximum time that families will typically need assistance in disaster situations before help arrives or services are fully restored.
Other useful items to be in your emergency kits include battery-powered flashlights and lanterns along with a generous supply of batteries for them. Sleeping bags and shelter items are also useful.
But things can get complicated for households that have people with mental or physical needs. Different supplies and procedures may be required, including extra items for their emergency kits.
- Oxygen. If someone requires oxygen for survival, it may difficult to get more or refill tanks during disaster situations. So plan ahead to stockpile extra tanks. Your supplier may be able to share details on safe storage.
- Medicine. Those requiring medication for mental or physical health conditions don’t want to have these disrupted. So an emergency kit should include enough dosages for a few more weeks. Although some prescriptions are supposed to be filled one week at a time, a provider or pharmacist might be willing to create an extra batch for emergencies only.
- Identification. Someone with memory problems, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may be at a higher risk of getting confused or separated during periods of great stress or instability. So every family member should have the same contact and medical information or make sure they stay together as much as possible, even at shelters.
- Assistive devices. Bring along or pack extra glasses, canes, hearing aids (plus batteries) or other necessary devices that can be easily lost or forgotten.
- Machinery. Any lifesaving machinery or equipment, including IVs or monitoring devices.
Families with someone receiving hospice care may face even more challenges. Someone could be in weak health and not want to move. They could have physical difficulties moving as well, such as poor endurance to relocate to a shelter.
In some cases, they may not want to leave the place they’re comfortable living, if it’s an option, leaving family members with the dilemma of either the need to stay with them or looking for methods to persuade them to evacuate.
This is why proper preparation is especially useful, including inquiring about possible alternative locations for your loved one.
Would a local hospital, assisted living community or rehabilitation facility take someone on a temporary basis? Can home health service be requested on a short-term basis? Is there a friend or relative with space and familiarity with hospice needs be willing to accommodate a patient and perhaps a caregiver until everything is back to normal? Are there other places that could provide temporary housing, such as a local hotel or motel?
Local disaster officials, such as the American Red Cross, may be able to offer some guidance about resources, housing options or medical support.
Of course, these conversations are better off taking place when there’s nothing happening, which is an essential part of smart preparation. During a disaster situation, shelters may be full and disaster officials may be feeling overwhelmed and focusing on critical needs.
Having a plan and discussing with family ahead of time will mean fewer feelings of disruption and uncertainty.