Steps for Hurricane Preparedness

by Alzheimer's Community Care of Palm Beach, FL

How should I care for a loved one with dementia / special needs?

  1. Keep calm. Your loved one will take cues from you and sense if you are panicked.
  2. Ask your physician to prescribe medications to be kept on hand for emergency situations. These would be medications to decrease anxiety and promote sleep.
  3. Monitor your loved one's level of anxiety and agitation. CONTINUE TO REASSURE. Realize that they may not understand what is going on. You may need to administer the emergency medication if you notice that anxiety or agitation is increasing.
  4. If you or your loved one has special medical needs (i.e. oxygen, insulin, or I.V. therapy) pre-register with the special needs shelter.
  5. If your loved one suffers from dementia, make sure that you and your loved one have a Safe Return or other identification bracelet on. Call your Alzheimer's resource in your area for more information.
  6. Let family and friends know if you are leaving your home and where you are going to be during the storm.
  7. Have activities to occupy and distract your loved one (photo books/albums, music with headphones). If you go to a shelter, bring a few comforts of home i.e. pillow, quilt, to provide familiarity. Bring favorite foods and snacks to use as distractions.
  8. If you go to a shelter, observe safety precautions such as limiting access to exits from the building or access to sharp objects.
  9. Be aware of people interacting with your loved one as your loved one may be easily agitated by strangers and the unfamiliar environment. Choose a quiet corner.
  10. Pack incontinent supplies and disposable cleaning cloths if necessary.
  11. If you stay home, try to enlist people to help prepare for the storm and stay with you.
  12. Keep rooms well lit; shadows and darkness add to confusion. Lantern style flashlights are preferable to spotlights, which will create more shadows.
  13. Minimize outside noise by closing curtains and doors to rooms with windows that face outdoors as the sounds of wind, rain and flying debris can be particularly terrifying and confusing.

Find more info on Disaster Preparedness in our Reading Room.

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College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida