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Facing A Storm

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 4)  

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!

An “A-Team”

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 is essential!

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 storage complex.

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.


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