In many parts of the US, particularly Florida, the tropical cyclone season starts in mid-June and continues in October. During this period, strong winds, heavy rainfall, and worst of all, hurricanes, become common occurrences that can disrupt not only normal day-to-day life activities but also impact human health. The age group that is more prone to these health-related problems includes senior citizens who are usually on medications and require frequent medical care, including the need for medical supplies for senior care. Let us understand how a proper care plan can be outlined for the elderly during a tropical cyclone to avoid any kind of extreme health emergencies.
Measures to be taken in case of a climate emergency
In case of a climate emergency, an elderly patient will most likely have no access to the healthcare setups or their personal physician. Moreover, until the situation becomes normal, such patients cannot even be approached by any healthcare worker to check on them. Therefore, preparing some essential things including medical supplies for senior care so that they deal with an emergency proves to be beneficial. Here are some of the steps one can take to prepare one’s self or an elderly family member for the cyclone season:
1. Refill prescriptions before the time
As per Florida law, a person can take a 30-day advance refill of a prescription medication if a hurricane warning has been issued by the National Weather Services or if an emergency has already been declared. This measure ensures a constant supply of essential medications while an elderly patient is trapped at home or in a community center during an ongoing climate emergency.
2. Take care of essential medical records
The medical history of a patient is the goldmine in case of an emergency as the healthcare providers get all the necessary information from it before starting the treatment. Therefore, an elderly patient’s medical records should be copied and put in a file collectively. These may include:
- Medical history
- Immunization records
- Health insurance
- Insurance policies
- Social security card
3. Have a medical ID
Having a medical tag or bracelet comes in handy if an elderly patient comes across a medical emergency. This medical ID keeps a record of all the essential information regarding the patient’s health and aids the healthcare staff if the patient becomes unconscious or cannot communicate properly.
4. Essential medical supplies for senior care
While going to a community shelter, a bag with essential medical supplies has to be prepared for elderly people. All the medical supplies for senior care should be collected and packed in a waterproof bag in order to protect them from being damaged. These supplies must include:
Blood sugar monitoring equipment:
A B.P. monitoring device ensures that an elder patient’s cardiac health is as it is expected to be. Measurements should be taken on a daily basis and the values should be recorded.
Hearing aids are usually used by the elderly who have auditory impairments. These aids should also be packed in a waterproof medical supplies bag.
Most of the elderly have impaired vision and are in need of eyeglasses. Spectacles that have been prescribed to the patient should be packed in their medical supplies bag. This way, the elderly can also take their medications without any trouble of identification.
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Face masks, sanitizers, and disinfecting wipes:
Face masks, sanitizers, and disinfecting wipes are necessary as in community centers, microbes can easily be transmitted due to the assemblage of many people. With the added effect of the weather, the situation becomes ideal for the spread of infections.
Therefore, wearing a mask saves the elderly from acquiring such diseases which can further compromise the already weak immune system. Similarly, keeping one’s hands sanitized and using alcohol-based disinfecting wipes also provide the same benefits.
Walkers or wheelchairs are a necessity for people who have mobility issues. Therefore, these mobility aids, along with additional batteries or patch kits, should also be taken.
People who require breathing assistance often need to be artificially oxygenated via an oxygen cylinder. In this case, a fully filled oxygen cylinder should be kept in the patient’s medical supplies.
Water and food:
Water (one gallon per person per day) and non-perishable food should also be packed as keeping elderly patients hydrated is as important as keeping them consistent on their medications.
Climate emergencies such as tropical cyclones increase the likelihood of infection spread. A spike is usually observed in the number of patients who have been affected by flu, cough, cold, or fever.
In this case, generally, everyone, but particularly the elderly, becomes prone to acquiring diseases or, in the worst-case scenario, getting affected by an extreme medical emergency. Luckily, both of these situations are avoidable if proper care of the elderly is taken.
Essential medications, medical supplies for senior care, and other necessary items should be prepared before time to avoid any serious health-related situations.