Natural disasters can take elders to the end of their lives very quickly as fail safe protections are not in place to assist in the case of hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes or other events that are unforeseen.
An elder can be anyone over the age of 50 but it can also include those who are in need of living support and that can be at any age. It may include health concerns, living support for mental health issues and care for acute or long term medical conditions.
An elder may live alone and receive outside support services, maybe they are living with another elder and the support comes from being with each other, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, hospice homes, community housing and in areas where the elderly congregate to keep themselves with a roof over their head are many alternatives for housing.
How involved are in checking on your elders when they live alone or have a medical condition? Have you fully checked out the place your send your elders to for the duration of their life such as nursing homes, assisted living or group care?
Do you know the questions to ask when you leave your loved ones ‘off’ at the door for someone else to care for them?
What area of the country do you live in and where do your loved ones live? Who is responsible for elder care when you are not around?
Many elders have been living in homes with no one around and this solo existence is heart breaking when there are no visitors to check on them or to keep their well being in mind. In recent years, one elder may significantly outlive their spouse or living partner and be alone for the rest of their time on this earth. How can we help support the people who are alone?
Today, we will touch on the elders who are living alone and you may not know if they have support in the local area. Here are some steps to connect with your neighbors and have a plan should something occur in your area.
Steps everyone should do BEFORE an event occurs in your area and it does not have to be a drastic event like a natural disaster, additionally it could be a cold spell, fire, or seasonal illness for an area.
- designate about a mile around your home and identify your neighbors
- make a list of those who are alone
- visit once to introduce yourself and see if you can meet more of the family members
- visit again to show you are around if they need anything
- visit again to ask them how things are going
- visit again to bring them a small item to remind them you are here for them
- visit again to share a meal with them
- visit again to take them out for an appointment or a meal
- ask them how you can support them if an event occurs
- ask them for contact numbers if they have not shared them prior with you
- continue to be a good neighbor and watch out for the elder
Can you care for an elder from a distance and let them know you are around if they feel afraid or in danger? Their life may depend on you and it is important we reach out to help others.
In the case of a natural disaster;
- set up a plan with the elder
- discuss it with the family members if they are out of the area
- know the health of the elder prior to putting them into your car to evacuate
- understand the level of fear of the elder, with a small fright to a grave fear of danger
- remember to take an envelope of important papers on the elder who may be in your care if you evacuate or have them in your home
- be very aware and prepared the elder may expire in your care
- be very aware and prepared the elder may develop a health crisis in your presence
- be prepared to help the elder in all cases of stress, fear, and health concerns to the best of your ability
- be sure you have a back up person to help you with caring for someone else if at all possible
While the items here discussed are only the tip of the iceberg relating to caring for elders and what to do if things in life change drastically and may endanger their lives; do the best you can and be aware. If you are alert and have a few items in your possession to identify who you are and the elder is; and you have had some sort of discussion with the elder prior to an event, you both will be ok to make it to the next step. Remember, hand holding is essential to easing a person who is distraught with life changes.
Reach out to each other as we depend on people to help us be safe with things get really scary.