When catastrophe comes calling, seniors and family caregivers are among the most vulnerable, according to the American Red Cross and Home Instead Senior Care, the nation’s largest provider of non-medical home care and companionship for the elderly.
“We saw firsthand during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita how seniors could be at greater risk than other demographic groups,” said Victoria Melvin, preparedness expert for the American Red Cross. About two-thirds of the 623 victims of Hurricane Katrina identified so far from the New Orleans area were over 60, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
“But it’s not just hurricanes. Natural disasters impact seniors and their families in various ways throughout the country each year,” Ms. Melvin added.
“At the local level, we know that a disaster can be deadly for some seniors because of physical and other limitations,” said Gary Leiter, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in East Providence and East Greenwich RI. “That’s why we’re always ready to help seniors prepare for any kind of emergency that could threaten their health or safety.”
Some recent examples, according to Home Instead Senior Care:
- A CAREGiver in Indiana rode out a killer tornado with a senior in her home, comforting her until the danger passed.
- When a massive blizzard hit Colorado, a CAREGiver traversed dangerous streets to make sure an older adult had everything she needed to survive.
- A Home Instead Senior Care franchise owner and his CAREGiver team canvassed New York City checking on their senior clients when a blackout shut down.
- During Hurricane Katrina, a CAREGiver drove a senior client with Alzheimer’s disease to Georgia for two weeks to escape the onslaught of the storm.