Are Seniors Prepared for Natural Disasters?

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The recent fires in California, and in the Riverside area in particular, serve as a potent reminder to be prepared for emergencies.  Knowing what to do and where to go in the event you can’t remain at home is critical.  Watching smoke and fire come closer to your home is definitely not the best time to start considering what you need to pack up.  Additionally, if you have a loved one who is residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home, be sure that you know what the plan is should they need to be evacuated.

Data from the National Poll on Health Aging suggest that older adults, loved ones and their care providers should take time to prepare for how they will cope and communicate in an emergency. The question is not if something will occur, but when. According to the article “Many Older Adults Aren’t Ready for Natural Disasters” from the website futurity.com (U. Michigan), fewer than half of the seniors surveyed have signed up for emergency warning systems from their community. Less than a third have an emergency kit prepared with essential supplies and medicines to get them through an emergency or to take with them, if there is an evacuation.

The poll asked a national sample of 2,000 adults age 50 to 80 about their readiness for several different types of emergency situations. About seventy-five percent said that they had already experienced at least one major emergency in their lives.

“Whether it’s as straightforward as a power outage that lasts a day, or as severe as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, preparing can make a huge difference,” says Preeti Malani, the poll’s director and a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.

One of the key steps for an adult to take in disaster readiness is to talk with loved ones about what will happen in different types of emergencies, and what needs they should consider. For those who depend upon medicine, medical supplies and equipment, this can be lifesaving.

A basic emergency plan to evacuate and be safe is a smart idea for everyone. For older adults who have health issues or mobility challenges, this is particularly important.

There are some areas where seniors are prepared. 85% said they have a week’s supply of their medications on hand, and 72% say they have a week’s worth of other medical supplies.

Having a plan in place for disaster is important for seniors. So is having an estate plan, to prepare for life’s unexpected occurrences. If you don’t have an estate plan, speak with an estate planning attorney soon to have a will, power of attorney, healthcare proxy and other planning documents in place.

Reference: futurity.org (U. Michigan) (Sep. 4, 2019) “Many Older Adults Aren’t Ready for Natural Disasters