September is Emergency Preparedness Month, which makes it an excellent time to discuss the things caregivers should do to protect their loved ones safe during an emergency. September marks the start of hurricane season, and Florida has already faced a major hurricane. Whether your senior family members are living at home, nursing home, or an assisted living facility, caregivers need to ensure they understand the plan for possible emergencies. Here are some tips from Steve Watrel, P.A. on what caregivers should do to prepare for an emergency situation.
The first step to planning for an emergency is to get an accurate idea of the potential risk in the area. You can get information from the emergency preparedness division of your local fire department. They can advise you on potential risks in your area based on past events. For example, they could tell you if your loved one is in an area that’s prone to flooding during a hurricane. Similarly, they would know about areas with a higher potential for wildfire damage. Having an accurate idea of the potential dangers can help you create a more comprehensive and useful emergency plan.
If you’re loved one is in managed care at a nursing home or assisted living facility. Talk to the administrator about their plans to mitigate the risk in their area. The potential for power outages during severe tropical storms means that many nursing homes need to have an evacuation plan that accounts for getting residents to a facility with a generator or away from floodwaters.
The emergency plans for nursing homes are supposed to be checked by local governments to make sure the preparation is adequate. However, if facilities don’t follow through with their planning, the lives of residents could be in danger. Major hurricanes and tropical storms have led to horrific tragedies where nursing homes weren’t adequately prepared, and residents died as a result. Even if the local government checks the plans, caregivers still need to know a nursing home or ALF’s emergency plan. This way, they know how to reach their family members in an emergency and have the peace of mind that their needs are being handled during the crisis.
Caregivers should also make plans for situations when they aren’t around. For example, they should designate a substitute caregiver ready to help if the primary caregiver becomes available. They should also create a written, detailed description of the senior’s current care needs and provide copies to members of the person’s personal support network. This strategy ensures that if you become separated from a loved one, there are others who can provide an accurate description of the person’s care needs.
It’s essential to plan for routine changes in the aftermath of an emergency, and caregivers need to prepare for that possibility. Aside from the water, food, and other necessary hurricane supplies, caregivers should have a supply of a senior’s medication. Also, the person needs dialysis or other life-sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
If you have questions about the care your loved one receives into a nursing home, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help. Steve Watrel, P.A. has been fighting elder abuse in north Florida for more than 25 years. Send us a message online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your concerns.