Hurricane Irma seen striking Miami, Florida with 100+ mph winds and destructive storm surge.

On the heels of the hottest week in recorded history, rampant wildfires and flash floods, the impact of climate change on our environment is evident. For many seniors living at home who often have limited mobility and medical conditions, weather emergencies pose serious threats.

Kelly Britton, an Always Best Care franchisee in Spring, TX, understands the importance of preparation. The first step when faced with a weather emergency, she said, is to pose the question from the 1982 hit song by the Clash

“When there’s an emergency, you’ve got a couple of choices so you really need to evaluate: do I stay or do I go?” Britton told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “If you’re staying, you definitely want to have about two weeks worth of supplies including medicine. If you’re gonna go, I always say you want to have something called a ‘bug out bag,’ which would have all of your medical information, your powers of attorney, a list of your medications, anything critical. It would also include an emergency kit and change of clothes.” 

Britton also recommends maintaining a stock of supplies with long shelf lives, especially if you live in locales prone to natural disasters like the Houston area. Having a supply of food ready is a good failsafe in case local stores are inaccessible.  

“You need to start looking at getting a two weeks supply of shelf-stable food ready just in case [there is] no power in the stores because that’s what happened during Hurricane Harvey,” Britton said. “Make sure you have staples like sugar, salt, pepper and a lot of high-energy foods like nut butters, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mixes, oatmeal and rice.”  

When it comes to stocking up on refrigerated foods, Britton says you can never go wrong with boiled eggs. If boiled ahead of time, eggs can be saved for future use.  

“I’m always a huge fan of boiled eggs because [if the] power goes out, you want to try to use whatever’s in the refrigerator as quickly as possible,” said Britton. “So if you have a bunch of eggs, boil those up because a lot of times you may have at least an ice chest where you can keep a small amount of food. Cold, boiled eggs are gonna contain a lot of protein and a lot of energy for older adults.”

Weather emergencies can make a great impact on a senior’s mental health, she noted. That’s why it is imperative to have a social support system of family members, caregivers, neighbors, etc., in place to provide a sense of stability, per Britton.

“If you have a caregiver or a family member there, that can really help that loved one stay as comfortable as possible,” Britton said. “I think a lot of the issue is it’s emotionally stressful for older adults to go through something like that and it’s normal to have those feelings of stress and anxiety. Being able to give them comfort and talking about it, getting enough sleep, those types of things can help them transition through that safely.”

Home Sweet Home is a feature appearing Mondays in McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. The story focuses on a heartwarming, entertaining or quirky happening affecting the world of home care. If you have a topic that might be worthy of the spotlight in Home Sweet Home, please email Special Projects Coordinator Foster Stubbs at [email protected].