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Facing A Storm
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
In most parts of the country, the
long-anticipated summer days also mean the coming of the
much-dreaded storm season. From thunderstorms to
tornados, and house fires to hurricanes, weather is as
unpredictable as a loved one suffering from memory loss.
The best plan, when both situations find themselves,
face-to-face is the standard advice: be prepared!
Any caregiver over the age of 40
remembers the days of the A-Team, which Wikipedia
describes as “soldiers of fortune.” Sometimes caregivers
find themselves in a similar role, having to take
control of a loved one’s finances and health care, among
other things, for the best interest of that person.
Sometimes that “takeover” is not always welcome.
Disaster preparedness is similar. A disaster is never a
welcome problem. A caregiver’s best defense is
having one in place prior to when an aggressive takeover
Now is a caregiver’s chance to organize
their own A-Team, a support network of local friends,
neighbors and relatives who can be of assistance during
disasters. The team together should decide how they will
establish communication during a time of natural
disaster and how each member will be of assistance to
the caregiver before, during and after.
The University of Florida IFAS Extension
Service suggests a caregiver have someone on the team
who can lift and carry heavier items with ease, such as
wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, etc. Evaluate the condition
of the loved one and plan accordingly, even more
aggressively if their situation progresses rapidly.
Also, fear makes people freeze both mentally and
physically, making the person less able to help
themselves during stressful times.
At least one, if not all team members,
should have a key to the loved one’s home, in case the
others are unable to respond first. One person should be
named substitute caregiver and “in charge” in case the
regular provider is unavailable.
Once the team is assembled, discuss and learn what
potential disasters a loved one’s area may encounter.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados and floods are just a
few of the regional threats a variety of people may
face, depending on location. Another less-thought-of
risk is residence near a nuclear power plant or chemical
The Written Rule
The written word is just as powerful
today as it was one hundred years ago. It confirms and
solidifies plans with an authority no spoken phrase can.
As a caregiver, a disaster plan is good, but even better
if written down, distributed to the A-Team and reviewed
periodically. And, it’s a great tool for a loved one to
have on hand, to help them feel safe and cared for, and
organized during a confusing time.