Families must develop an action plan for their relatives who need assistance long before a hurricane blows into the Gulf of Mexico.
If you depend on outside caregivers for feeding, bathing, physical therapy, medication or other help, the storm may interrupt that reliable help. Start thinking now about who can provide that assistance: Does your health agency offer a backup? Can a family member or friend step in? What training do they need?
For a person with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, a disruption of routine or an evacuation to a shelter can be extremely stressful.
The newsletter of the Alzheimer's Family Organization in New Port Richey offers these tips:
• Make sure someone outside the storm area has the person's identification, medical information and contact information.
• Make sure the person has identification – a bracelet or necklace with name and contact information – in case he or she becomes lost or separated from a caregiver.
• If you choose not to evacuate, prepare a hurricane kit with at least a two-week supply of medication, a list of dosages and instructions, first aid supplies and important phone numbers.
• If a caregiver cannot get to your home, it is important that a person with Alzheimer's or dementia has enough activities, especially if the power goes out. Plan activities that calm the person.
• Steady replays of storm images can be upsetting to someone who doesn't understand that the same images are being repeated.
• People with dementia and Alzheimer's pick up on the vibes around them. If caregivers and others are calm and collected, they will be too.