Alzheimer’s Care During a Catastrophic Event

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by Ray Burow |

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By the time this column is published, Hurricane Laura will have made landfall. As I write this, all eyes are on Louisiana and Texas, but Arkansas and the mid-Mississippi region also will be affected.

Of course, today we have learned the extent of devastation, but on this side of its landing, many prayers and thoughts are extended from everyone at Alzheimer’s News Today.

My mind is inundated with thoughts of caregivers and their loved ones who have dementia and the preparation that’s required in advance of a hurricane. In fact, preparing for any event is a challenge, and though a killer storm may not be bearing down on you, it pays to plan ahead for the unexpected. The following tips will help.

Organize thoughts and items

Don’t be caught off guard by a catastrophic event. Make a list of what you will need for caregiving, in case you and your loved one are required to evacuate your home.

Prepare a suitcase

Pack a bag or two with essentials and store them where they are easily accessible in the event of an emergency. Place medications at the top of your list of essential items and put them in the getaway bag. You may not know when you’ll be allowed to return home, so keep pharmaceuticals up to date and renewed.

Stock up on personal hygiene products

Not to be indelicate, but if your loved one wears adult diapers (in lieu of personal dignity, preferably referred to as paper underwear), have several packages on hand for future use. Do not make them available for everyday wear, but save them for the emergent situation they could face down the road.

Stock up over time and not all at once. This will help to avoid hoarding situations that prevent other caregivers from finding products, which will be useful to them also. Disposable pads are also a good addition.

Cleansing wipes and hand sanitizer

If we’ve learned one thing during the current pandemic, it’s that hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes are essential. Enough said.

Health information

Make copies of your loved one’s insurance cards and keep them with the medication you’ve stored for a quick getaway. Also, copy identification cards and place those in the bag, too. Don’t forget social security cards, passports, and birth certificates. If medical alert bracelets are worn, place one in the take-along bag. Your loved one should wear the other at all times.

Most people will have a cellphone, but a second one, such as a track phone, could be helpful if the primary cellphone is lost or inadvertently damaged or destroyed.

Phone/address book

Most people don’t memorize telephone numbers anymore. They rely on the contacts that are stored in their cellphones. But your contact list is useless without service. Make a hard copy of telephone numbers and stow them in the to-go bag.


It’s hard to stash away money, but do it. Keep emergency cash on hand. ATMs may not operate during an emergency, and banks may not open. Mad money will come in handy for gas, food, and added supplies.

Prepare your home

Home is where the heart is, perhaps especially during an emergency. Plan for several weeks at home, just in case. Add food staples to the pantry that can be consumed if you lose power. Crackers, soup, peanut butter, breakfast bars, canned fruit and vegetables, and drinking water are a few choices.

The chances of running out of water, even during a hurricane, are slim unless you have a well driven by an electric pump. Hoarding bottled water is unnecessary. Gathering water from the kitchen faucet and storing it in a well-sealed container is fine.


Charcoal or gas for a portable grill will assist with meals if the electricity goes down. Of course, if it’s necessary to use a grill, then the electricity is still off, which means daily runs to the grocery store.

Most of the items in this list are added to help keep your loved one comfortable and safe during an emergency. There are other items that can be added to the list. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s a start.

In the meantime, for anyone facing perilous conditions brought on by Hurricane Laura, I wish you Godspeed in the recovery.


Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.


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