Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have shown the tremendous risks at the hands of dangerous storms. For the elderly who live in hurricane zones, severe storms pose even more of a threat since many have disabilities and medical conditions for which they need special care.
During, and after, a hurricane strikes caring for seniors requires special attention and planning.
Even independent seniors can suffer disproportionately from natural disasters like hurricanes, especially when basic necessities like food and water are hard to find. For those who have trouble getting around, the risks are amplified and they can often find themselves more vulnerable.
“The frailest of the adults are unlikely to manage the money stressors and the aftereffects of a hurricane,” said Dr. Anne Fabiny, a UCSF School of Medicine professor working at the San Francisco VA center. “Be it using a cane, a walker or being consigned to a bed, the elderly cannot respond to adversities like this without help.”
Here are few of the major challenges the elderly have faced in Harvey, Irma and other major storms –- and ways to help them:
Access to the necessities: Food, water and medications
Access to safe food and water is a challenge during natural disasters. Seniors run an increased risk of dehydration because they may not feel thirsty, a lack of sensation that becomes more problematic as people grow older.