Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane Sandy gave me time to think as I waited for the wind and rain to stop.  One of the things I got to thinking about was how hard a disaster is to deal with when you have all your faculties about you and understand what's going on around you.  I've been fortunate that I've never had to evacuate my home in all the times I've waited for a storm to pass.  Though, there have be a couple of times when we were prepared to go should the circumstances call for it.

My family has been faced with the loss of everything as a result of our home burning down in the 1980's.  The loss of our home was nothing compared to the struggles those impacted by Hurricane Sandy are going through right now.  However, it was a personal disaster for us.  When I recall that event and I understand what is happening to so many, I wondered what such situations would be like with Lyn in her current state.  How much harder would they be to manage when you're also trying to manage an individual with dementia?

Remember that dementia increases confusion and fear.  The individual cannot fully understand or adequately process why they are out of their own environment, why they're someplace strange, why their schedule is disrupted.  They may have increased difficulty with vision or hearing in addition to the processing and emotional challenges.

What if there is an evacuation order and the individual refuses to leave?  Are they competent to make that decision?  Does this vary from state to state?  Are there shelters available that can handle the special needs of dementia patients?

In wondering these things, I came across a Ph.D. dissertation written by Janelle J. Christensen at the University of South Florida titled "Hurricane Preparedness of Community-Dwelling Dementia Caregivers in South Florida".  (The download button on that page gets you access to the entire 354 page dissertation.)  It is quite a read and I've not had a chance to finish it yet.  She makes a good point in it, though, when she reminds the reader that the previous experience the caregiver has in going through a hurricane with the dementia patient is "likely to be very different in the following years."  Given the progressive nature of the disease, how the patient responds or experiences the stimuli of the event will not be consist from one event to the next.

I have no suggestions right now on this.  I just have more reading to do.  There's a tremendous amount in the dissertation which appears to be of great value.

Additional Information:
Alzheimer's Association - In a Disaster


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  2. Lyn has questioned what would we do if we had to leave. We talked about what we will take, Nikka, meds papers, clothing etc. However, I assure her that the chances of us ever having to leave is almost non-existant. I know she still "worries" about the people who lost everything.
    She has such a kind heart.


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