As if seniors and their families haven’t had enough to deal with related to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re now at the peak of hurricane season in Florida. With predictions for an unusually active storm season, preparation is key. After Hurricane Laura slammed into Texas and Louisiana, I received a call from Ellie, the daughter of one of my clients, an 82-year old gentleman named Mark who lives in his own home in Tallahassee.
“I’m freaked out about the hurricane that hit Louisiana and I’m rethinking the plan we made a couple months ago,” Ellie said. “I don’t want Dad to stay at home and ride out any storm. I know that’s what he said he wanted, but I don’t think it’s safe. I think whenever there’s a storm, I don’t care how big or small, I’ll come pick him up and he can stay with me until it’s over.”
We had talked about hurricane preparedness in May, and Mark had insisted that he’d survived many storms and would be fine at home. He said the last thing he wanted was to stay with his daughter, Ellie, as he didn’t like her husband much and he hated for his routine to be disrupted.
I review hurricane preparedness with all of my clients so that families have a plan at the start of the season. This involves ensuring that seniors who live at home have adequate personal supplies, medications, food, and water. We review the emergency plans and procedures of the community, evacuation routes, emergency phone numbers, what to do about pets, etc. I also arrange for seniors who rely on oxygen – or other medical equipment that requires electricity – to be linked to emergency response.
For those clients who live in facilities, we determine if the family would like the senior to evacuate, if necessary, with them, or with the facility. Things may change during an actual storm of course, but it’s helpful to have a plan.
Ellie asked me if I could be present at a meeting with her father, so she could broach her idea. Mark could be stubborn, and she was concerned that he would pooh-pooh anything she said. We set up the meeting the next day, and Mark listened to Ellie’s concerns about his safety.
“I think you’re over-reacting but how about this,” he said. He looked at Ellie. “The next storm that comes, I’ll talk it over with you…and my care manager.” He looked at me. “If you both think it’s not safe, then I’ll consider it. But as it stands, I’m not planning to leave the house anytime the weatherman says there’s a breeze coming through. Fair enough?”
Ellie sighed. “All right, Dad. As long as you promise!”
Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires…natural disasters can happen anywhere. Care managers can help families plan and prepare, and provide services if seniors need to be evacuated.
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