Help Aging Parents: Seniors and Storms, Floods, Uncontrollable Events

PREPAREDNESS, DENIAL, INSECURITY

The Eastern Seaboard prepares for Hurricane Irene. We wait; we track Irene’s progress on TV.  When the power undoubtedly will go out, we’ll have our portable radios, charged iPhones, and computers that function as long as the battery holds out. They connect us, update us; buffer us from feelings of cluelessness and isolation. In fact it becomes a priority to have them charging until the last burst of power goes out.

Having a supply of candles, flashlights and batteries is a no brainer–as long as we’re young and healthy enough to have purchased them ahead of time. And of course there’s the food. We’ll do the best we can to limit opening the refrigerator and have followed advice to fill some plastic bags with water and freeze them in hopes of keeping a colder environment in the refrigerator as long as possible.

But what about the frail and isolated elderly?

On a large scale Mayor Bloomberg and Co. have evacuated nursing homes, “old age” homes, and hospitals that are in harm’s way–providing ambulances, as I understand it, to help transport the elderly and infirmed to facilities in safer locations. Additional homeless shelters have been opened on safer ground. Don’t know about transportation for those individuals.

Finally Closer to Home…..

Some aging parents whose life and limb are threatened may resist leaving home, a bastion of security for many; or they may be in denial about the seriousness of the situation.  In either event, asking ourselves “what’s the goal?” and how best to achieve it can/should guide our actions.

For elderly people not dangerously in harm’s way, living alone or not, the feeling of isolation and helplessness is obviously elevated. Phoning them (check whether they have necessary supplies if they live near), and giving them our cell phone number so they can contact us (assuming they have a cell phone and are keeping it charged), is a small act…but priceless gift. Possibly the best we can do when something we expect, but have no control over, looms large.

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