Alzheimer's Q&A, June 2, 2014

Now that hurricane season has begun, what are some emergency preparedness measures I should take to ensure the safety of my loved one and me?

In a natural disaster, such as hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods, blizzards and earthquakes, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be especially vulnerable. Their limited mental capacity may severely limit their ability to cope.

You are wise to start planning now.

It is a good idea to organize an emergency kit in advance. Purchase a waterproof container to collect the items you need: copies of birth certificate, passport, insurance cards, medical documents (identification items), copies of legal documents, extra clothes, shoes, spare eyeglasses, incontinence products, wet wipes, pillow or stuff animal (something for your loved one to hold), extra water and nonperishable food/snacks, phone numbers of family and friends, recent photograph of your loved one, a list of current medications, physician information, flashlight and extra batteries, cell phone charger and medical supplies, including medications and/or assistive devices that are needed.

Additionally, prepare a backpack for you, the caregiver, with items that you may want in the event you and your loved one need to go to a shelter. Items such as a book, journal, water bottle, snacks, light blanket and a small pillow can ease your stress in handling your loved one in a disaster situation.

Should a disaster occur, always try to remain composed, patient and supportive. Be ready to evacuate with your emergency kits, plus a first aid kit, and have a plan for getting out of your home, making sure you are familiar with evacuation routes.

It is a good idea to always keep the communication open between family members and friends, when possible, to alert them of your location once you have evacuated.

If you can remain in your home, remember to quickly lock all doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers, take your emergency supplies into a room you have designated to stay in throughout the event, and listen to all radio, television or emergency preparedness organizations for instructions.

However, try not to have your loved one hear these announcements as that may produce more anxiety.

Close drapes or blinds in the room as viewing the inclement weather can trigger behavioral eruptions.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.