Over 60 million people were under blizzard, winter storm or freezing rain warnings this weekend. How many were elderly?
“We’re in the age of extreme weather,” NYC Mayor de Blasio declared on TV Sunday, suggesting we need to be ready for future weather events. Since winter storm Jonas has dominated the news this weekend, bringing record and near-record snow to the northeast urban corridor, I’m wondering–
–How many of the 60+million people in its path are old; how many of them live independently; and how many live far from their adult children? The weather and the 11,600+ flights cancelled since Friday, can understandably cause stress for adult children who have elders they care about….perhaps even more concern if elderly parents live far away and are in harm’s way. Indeed, I remember the helpless feeling when I was in that situation years ago.
10 suggestions follow that alleviate–or at least lessen–
concern for elders’ safety
- Contact them of course
- Keep your parents’ neighbors’ cell phone numbers in a handy place. In the event parents don’t live near, neighbors can check on them if necessary.They may need to monitor and let you know if mom decides to go for a walk or shovel snow when she shouldn’t.
- Be as certain as possible, without being condescending or bossy of course, that aging parents are prepared for this “age of extreme weather.” (Personally check or put on your to-do list to check–or take care of–the following ahead of time)
If the Electricity Goes Out–
- Cell phones–at the ready–may be the only way to maintain contact when land lines are down. Make certain elders are comfortable using their fully-charged phones.
- Suggest /nicely remind that they keep their phone fully charged in case of power outages. (Elders are usually not as compulsive as younger people about keeping their phones charged.)
- Gift elders with the inexpensive, small, portable charger/external back-up battery pack for their cell phone–making certain they understand how easily the charger’s input and output works. (Isn’t a reserve power source insurance?)
- Gift flashlights if parents don’t have an adequate supply. Check that batteries function.
- Do elders know how long food lasts in the refrigerator or freezer? It’s good information to have and can save significant money and potential illness. Having styrofoam coolers help (see link).
- Have a supply of water. Preparing for Supper Storm Sandy people in apartment buildings were advised, in advance, to keep extra water –to drink, as well as to flush toilets in case power should go out.
- If health issues make being outside problematical, remind elders to stay indoors and skip the snow shoveling….or looking for their pet. Years of experience have taught me cats have amazing ability to take care of themselves. (I’m unsure about dogs.)
Are we aware of aging parents’ and elders’ concerns?
During Super Storm Sandy there was real concern about pets. Do we have a Plan B for aging parents’ pets? Not a surprise to pet-lovers, many old people consider pets are their closest friend. Understandably elders can be reluctant to leave their home/apartment because of their pets. Add “pets” to elders’ concerns about the difficulty of needing to move temporarily if necessary, or the worry that their homes could be looted if no one is home.
Just received this short video of Home Depot’s nationwide response to disasters, which includes–along with giving away tools for restoring disaster damage–housing and veterinary care for “displaced” (my word) pets. Again, good to know about–in advance.
We don’t always think ahead about preparedness until there’s a disaster. Given last weekend, “make lemonade out of the lemon” (as they say). Isn’t this a good time to make certain our aging parents and the elders we care about are prepared for the unexpected? And isn’t that a sure way to help them age well.
A Caregiver’s Natural Disaster Prep List-AARP
Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies–FEMA pdf
Preparing for Emergencies Now: Information for Older Americans—