Emergencies happen to seniors as well as everyone else, but can be even more devastating because they are seniors. How can you prepare your senior ?
The first type of emergency involves an accident in the home or a sudden illness. These are usually – but not always – medical emergencies.
The second type of emergency occurs when an environmental situation impacts the senior, such as loss of electric power, water supply contamination, or natural disaster that may force the senior to leave the residence.
Medical or Mobility Emergencies
Consider three scenarios in a medical emergency:
- The senior can’t get to the phone or cannot speak.
Investigate a personal alert system. Worn as a necklace, bracelet, or watch type device, the senior presses the alarm button, which contacts the 24/7 response center. If the senior can speak, he can inform the center of his problem. If he cannot speak, the operator assumes he is in distress and will either call an emergency contact or call 911. These systems average about $30 month, but check carefully: some may have hidden fees.
There are several excellent personal alert systems available. We recommend Life Station (877-288-4956). Use the discount code of MII2 for $2.00 off the monthly rate.
2. The senior can’t open the door for the first responder
A senior with heart pain, shortness of breath, or who has fallen cannot open a locked front door. While first responders can and will force open a door, it takes valuable time, causes worry for the senior when they hear the noise, and requires someone to follow-up with repairs.
A good solution is the 1650 Residential Knox Box system from the Knox Company (800-552-5669). You have probably seen Knox boxes in the front of commercial establishments. These are metal boxes that contain a key to front door. The box itself is secured with a lock that only the local fire department can open. Even the police must contact the fire department to open the Knox Box. There are several residential models, and your local fire department may have their own requirements.
3. The senior can’t communicate or relay the important information that the paramedics or first responders need.
The solution is a subscription to myimportantinformation.net. The senior (or you) enters their important information such as:
- Identifying information
- Emergency contacts
- Health conditions
- Care of pets
- Location of important documents
- Special instructions if they are taken to the hospital
- And more
Myimportantinformation.net sends the senior a window sticker to alert first responders, two refrigerator cards (one to stay at the house, the other to go with the senior to the hospital), and wallet card. The cards contain the website address and their unique emergency code that allows first responders (and friends and neighbors) to quickly see the information they need to help. The senior (or you) can also print the information so it is readily available without going to the internet.
The service is only $30 a year. In addition to serving its primary purpose of emergency support, the exercise of gathering this critical information is extremely helpful seniors and their families.
The most common utility or environmental situation is loss of electric power. We all know the inconvenience and frustration of losing power. This is especially concerning for seniors, and sudden darkness can lead to a medical emergency. Fortunately, a few flashlights and spare batteries can prevent a bad situation from getting worse.
Tips for emergency lighting:
- Place a flashlight in the bedroom, living area, and every room where the senior spends some portion of his day.
- Place an emergency light (one which goes on when the power is off) in electrical sockets in the hallways, living area, bedroom, and bathroom.
- Purchase a battery operated lantern type light that gives area illumination for long-lasting power failures.
- Purchase spare batteries and verify the senior knows the location and how to change batteries.
Tips for other situations:
- Purchase bottled water in containers the senior can easily handle. Gallon jugs are worthless if the senior cannot pick them up. Have a supply of at least five gallons. Water can be out for several days in a natural disaster.
- Consider a battery charger for their cell phone. If the electric is out, cell phones eventually run out of power and need to be recharged. There are several units that combine a light, radio, hand crank, solar charger, and cell phone charger. If you purchase one, show the senior how to use it.
- Purchase a battery powered radio with spare batteries. Being out of touch with the community during an emergency raises the anxiety level.
A prepared senior has more confidence that he can handle the unexpected.