Columbia, SC 08/24/2021 – The Alzheimer's Association is urging Lexington County caregivers serving patients and loved ones suffering from Alzheimer to prepare right along with others from across South Carolina for natural disasters of any type. September is National Preparedness Month and is a peak time for natural disasters. This is especially true for communities along the South Carolina coast but inland counties like Lexington are in no way exempt from the dangers of severe and disastrous weather.
Having preparation plans in place is particularly crucial to help those living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Taking important measures to plan can prevent injuries and help the person suffering with this disease feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed in an emergency situation. If an evacuation occurs or it becomes necessary to move to a shelter or some unknown environment, being prepared is the best plan to limit undue stress.
To help families facing Alzheimer’s and other dementias prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes and other weather emergencies, the Alzheimer’s Association offers important guidance that can be lifesaving during a crisis:
· Help people living with dementia during an evacuation. If the need to evacuate is likely, do not delay. Leave as early as possible to minimize long delays in traffic. Even in the early stage of Alzheimer’s, changes in routine, traveling and new environments may increase the risk for wandering and agitation. Stay alert for unexpected reactions and behaviors that may result from these changes. When appropriate, share the diagnosis with others, such as hotel or shelter staff, family members, and airline attendants, so they can better assist.
· Prepare an emergency “go” kit. As part of your emergency plan, keep an emergency kit in a watertight container, and store it in an easily accessible location with important legal and medical documents, spare clothing, face masks, cleaning supplies, extra medications, and identification items. Make sure medical and health records are attainable by people other than a primary caregiver.
· Check-in with residential care facilities. Being prepared in case of an emergency is crucial. If an individual lives in a residential care facility, learn about its disaster/evacuation plan(s) and who is responsible for evacuating residents in the event of an emergency. Be sure plans accommodate specific needs, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a walker, or portable oxygen.
“Our agency and partners encourage individuals to plan ahead in order to stay ahead,” said Connie Munn, Director of the South Carolina Department on Aging. “Having useful information, such as the S.C. Emergency Manager Mobile App, readily available and easily-accessible for seniors, their families, and/or caregivers, especially individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias can make all the difference in an emergency situation.”
Today, there are more than six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 95,000 in South Carolina. To help families facing Alzheimer’s and other dementias prepare for natural disasters, the Alzheimer’s Association offers tools for Preparing for Emergencies on its website, which provides important guidance that can be lifesaving during a crisis.