Those who care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can get free information to know how to prepare when a disaster hits.
Alzheimer’s Family Support services, known as the ARK, has created a free Caregiver’s Guide to Disaster Preparation. Click here to download the guide for free.
“It’s one of several resources that we issue to families to help them plan for emergencies or care for their loved ones and help them to return safely to their homes,” NOAH Project Director Naomi Cills with Alzheimer’s Family Support Services said.
The guide includes a list of emergency contacts, how to prepare, what to pack in an emergency kit, what kind of emergency kit to use, securing the house, what to do with pets and shelter information.
“What to do if you’re going to be going to a shelter. What to carry. What to take,” Cills said. “If you’re going to have to take your pets to a shelter, what you need to do to prepare and what do you need to take.”
Cills recommends gathering most of what you would need in advance and keeping it in a single place to ease the anxiety or stress when a disaster does occur. If your loved one receives care from outside programs or people, coordinate with them regarding their disaster plans. She warns not to assume services will continue during a disaster.
The guide also offers advice on how to keep a loved one calm during an emergency or an interruption in their routine.
“You need to reassure the person. Hold their hands,” Cills said. “Redirect the person’s attention. It’s best to talk to them about what’s going on in a calm manner. You want to maintain the routine for their regular meals and sleep as much as allows.”
She also said don’t argue with them. Try to minimize their agitation in an unfamiliar environment.
“Let them hold onto things that mean something to them,” she said. “Try to divert their attention. Assign them a simple task to distract them.”
The ARK provides programs for people who are caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Click here for a list of programs. If you are not able to download the disaster preparation guide, call 843-471-1360 to request one be mailed to you.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association of South Carolina, 89,000 in South Carolina are diagnosed with the disease. They are cared for by 309,000 unpaid family members and loved ones. South Carolina has the highest death rate from Alzheimer’s Disease in the nation.