Preparedness for seniors & the disabled

Planning ahead and having a support network can help reduce anxiety during an emergency or disaster. Your support network can include family, friends, neighbors, caregivers, coworkers and other people that you know and trust and are willing to help you.

If you are an older adult, or someone taking care of an elderly or disabled, you may face some challenges during an emergency. For example: mobility problems, chronic health conditions, caregivers and meal delivery services may be unavailable for a period of time. In addition, older adults may experience challenges that come with advanced age, such as hearing or vision problems or cognitive impairment, which may make it difficult to access, understand, and respond to emergency instructions.

Creating a Plan

The first step in preparing for an emergency is creating a plan. Work with your friends, family, and neighbors to develop a plan that will fit your needs. Talk with them and assess yourself and your household: what personal abilities and limitations can impact your response to a disaster? Communicate your needs to your support network and develop a plan that fits your needs.

  1. Choose a contact person who will check on you during a disaster, and decide how you will communicate with each other (for instance, by telephone, knocking on doors).
  2. Create a list of contact information for family members and friends. Leave a copy by your phone and include one in your Emergency Supply Kit.
  3. Plan how you will leave and where you will go during an evacuation. 
  4. Keep a copy of exit routes and meeting places in an easy-to-reach place.
  5. Create a care plan and keep a copy in your Emergency Supply Kit.

Emergency Supply Kit

After an emergency, you may not have access to clean water or electricity. Make sure you are prepared with your own supply of food, water, and other items to last for at least 72 hours (see  our section on Grab and go bag and Kit for Shelter in Place.

  • A 3-day supply of medicine, at a minimum. If medications need to be kept cold, have a cooler and ice packs available.
  • ID band.
  • Hearing aids and extra batteries.
  • Glasses and/or contacts and contact solution.
  • Medical supplies (oxygen, glucose monitoring strips, syringes, etc.).
  • Information about medical devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen including model numbers and vendor.

Documents (Keep physical copies in a waterproof bag and take photos of each document for backup):

  • Contact information for family members, doctors, pharmacies and/or caregivers.
  • List of all medications, including the exact name of the medicine and the dosage, and contact information for the pharmacy and doctor who prescribed medicine.
  • List of allergies to food or medicines.
  • Copies of medical insurance cards.
  • Copies of a photo ID.
  • Durable power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney documents, as appropriate.