Managing Functional Challenges during an Emergency or Disaster

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Caregivers in Loudoun VA

Caregivers in Loudoun VAMany elderly adults cope with functional challenges. These are the issues and limitations that keep them from being able to manage daily needs and can make it difficult for them to handle situations that are outside of their usual routine. This is especially pressing during a disaster situation or emergency. September is National Preparedness Month. This is the ideal opportunity for you to evaluate your aging parent’s functional challenges and ensure that their preparedness plan is tailored to address these challenges in an effective way so that they can stay as safe, healthy, and comfortable as possible throughout the experience.

Use these tips to help your parent create an emergency preparedness plan that helps them to manage functional challenges during an emergency or disaster:

• Evaluate their challenges. The first step in being prepared to manage your aging loved one’s functional challenges during an emergency or disaster is understanding the extent of those challenges in the first place. It is possible that your parent has more than one limitation or challenge, and it is important that you thoroughly evaluate each one to determine how they may impact your parent’s ability to get through a potentially dangerous situation so that they remain as safe and healthy as possible.

• Write down a plan. The best plans are those that multiple people know about, and the best way for you to be able to share your plans is to write them down. This plan should include vital information about your parent and their limitations, contact information for members of the care network, and details about supplies and plans that you already have in place, such as where the emergency kit is and if you have a family meeting place identified. You should also include any plans that you have made for accommodating your parent’s challenges and limitations.

• Identify the best shelter and route. If your parent lives in an area where the possibility of an evacuation is high due to weather concerns or other disasters, make sure that you know where the best shelter for them is and how to get there. You should always use official routes when trying to get to a shelter and never attempt to use a shortcut or alternative route. Roads may be closed or washed out, and attempting to use them can just put your aging parent and whoever they are traveling with at greater risk. If there are multiple shelters in the area, identify which one is the most ideal for your parent, but also know the location of and route to others in case something goes wrong and you need to choose an alternative. When selecting the shelter that is best for your parent, keep their functional needs in mind. Some shelters may be located closer to hospitals or other treatment centers that your parent might need, or be more accessible to family members and friends who need to get to your loved one.

• Have equipment with you. When building your parent’s emergency supply kit, make sure that you include items that are designed to help your parent manage their functional challenges. This can be extra hearing aids, their wheelchair, assistive technology, and medications. Make sure that you include written instructions for how to use these, and any prescriptions and allergy information that is applicable.


If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Loudoun, VA please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.