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How are Seniors ‘Weathering’ Hurricane Sandy?

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenNovember 2, 2012
Senior Being Carried By Rescue Worker After Hurricane Sandy

Hurricanes are scary for everyone. But if you are a caregiver or senior citizen, there are a lot of added complications. Luckily many assisted living communities have emergency response plans in place to help the elderly ‘weather the storm’ by getting warmth, medications and necessary care.

An emergency personnel carries an elderly resident from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey, October 30, 2012. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

Amidst the bustle of elections, Halloween and fall festivities, an unwelcome visitor arrived… Superstorm Sandy.

While those on the East coast had some warning, how prepared are we really for the unknown of mother nature’s wrath? And especially when it’s the largest storm to hit the Northeast in decades? The answer is we all do our best with the resources and time we have. Seniors in assisted living communities had the advantage of emergency response plans in place. In fact, many civilians retreated to these communities for electricity, running water and a sense of community.

According to CNN, Hurricane Sandy has caused at least 97 deaths and $20 billion dollars in damages, with at least 6.5 million without power. Oceans fill the streets, devastation wreckage litters once beautiful landmarks and the fuel and food shortage put the definition of ‘survival’ in perspective for many. And when you’re aged 65+, you’re all the more vulnerable…

Assisted Living Communities Have Emergency Plans in Place for a Reason

In New York, seniors were stuck in highrises, and in New Jersey, the National Guard had to rescue seniors trapped inside their homes. Families were forced into ‘survival mode’ to just keep their elderly loved ones warm, calm and well fed; quite difficult feats considering the circumstances.

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But while devastation trampled business and neighborhoods, assisted living communities had an advantage: Hurricane checklists and plans in place to help staff and caregivers prepare for emergencies. After all, staying calm in uncertain and stressful situations are ever more important when seniors are involved as routines, health care and familiarity are crucial.

Here are just a few of the helpful resources seniors enjoyed in their assisted living communities (*this checklist provided by Emeritus Senior Housing):

  1. Evacuation plans that are approved by the state
  2. Alternative housing options offering temporary stays
  3. 3-day supply of food and water for all residents and staff
  4. Generator refuels before, during and after the storm
  5. Extra flashlights and batteries stored on-site
  6. Emergency outlets located throughout each building
  7. Prescriptions filled and arranged by licensing staff
  8. Extra medical supplies, first aid and oxygen available
  9. Emergency vendors for gas, electric and phone companies available
  10. Supportive services include management staying during the storm to provide resident engagement and activities
  11. Professional weather proofing to meet state standards

It’s all about keeping calm in an uncertain and stressful situation, right? Well sometimes that can be hard to do, but many senior living communities have definitely been offering a helping hand. Emeritus Senior Living has offered free temporary stays to seniors in need, and Atria Senior Living staff volunteers trucked supplies where necessary.

A Place for Mom would like to say “thank you” to all communities and volunteers helping seniors through this difficult time. Making sure seniors have food, water shelter and the necessary care is half the battle.

Watch this video to learn more about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

Dana Larsen
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Dana Larsen

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