Each year hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and destructive snow storms disrupt the lives of thousands of people.

If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, that disruption can be a truly difficult one- regardless of who you are.

People with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are vulnerable when a disaster happens.

Thus having a disaster preparedness plan in place before such an event occurs is important.

In this post, I will share steps you can take to prepare for disasters when you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s.

Let’s delve right into it.

Disaster preparedness when you are caring for adults with Alzheimer’s Disease

General disaster preparedness

There are disaster preparedness actions we should all be taking whether we have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or not.

Wildfires

  • Leave your home if you are told to. If your loved one lives apart from you, make preparations to pick them up and leave to a safe area.
  • If you or your loved one are trapped in your home, please call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Tune in to your local TV or radio station for the latest safety information and updates.
  • Use N95 masks so you don’t breathe in ash and other debris from the environment. You can add a number of these when you are preparing your disaster preparedness kit.

Hurricanes

  • Find a designated safety shelter for you and your loved one to wait out the hurricane especially if your home is not safe to be at.
  • Pay attention to announcements given by the local TV and radio stations.
  • Plan on how to communicate with family members if you lose power. Sending a text or posting an update on social media is usually more effective at this time than making a call as the phone lines will likely be busy.
  • Keep your car in good working condition.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • Use generators- but outside! Which means if you don’t have a generator, prepare now by getting one.
  • Evacuate if you’re told to.

Blizzards/Snow Storms

  • Make sure you have enough food to last you and your loved ones for at least 3 days. Dry and foods that are less likely to perish quickly such as bread, crackers, peanut butter, jelly and drinks like water should be at the top of your list- barring any allergies of course.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • If you need to move your loved one in with you for the period of the snowstorm or go be with them, please do it.

Special Considerations when you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s/dementia

Because Alzheimer’s/dementia patients are likely to wander, the priority is to make sure they are safe when there is a natural disaster.

This includes:

  • Ensuring they don’t wander into the cold weather.
  • Keeping them warm.
  • Avoiding falls that could be fatal.
  • During a snowstorm, streets can look confusing. A patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia could lose their way trying to find their way back home.
  • Ensuring plans for their evacuation during a fire or hurricane.
  • Making plans for hired caregivers to be around your loved one in case you live far away or are traveling at the time of the disaster.
  • Placing identifying labels in your loved one’s clothing in case they do wander.

If there is a need for evacuation, make sure you gather:

  • Incontinence¬†undergarments, wipes, and lotions
  • Favorite snacks and high-nutrient drinks
  • The name, address and phone number of your loved one’s doctor
  • Copies of legal, medical, insurance, and Social Security information
  • Water-resistant bags to hold medications and documents
  • Recent photos of the person
  • Warm clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Spare eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries
  • Medications
  • Flashlights and extra batteries

What should be in your emergency preparedness kit? – Check out and print out these recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Closing Thoughts

There is certainly more to disaster preparedness than I can fit in one post.

In this post, we went over general precautions you should take to prepare for a natural disaster as well as special considerations when you have a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.

Did you find this post useful?

Print it out to use it to prepare or share it with someone else who needs it.