Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, earthquakes are especially disturbing because they come visiting like an unannounced distant relative without any warning whatsoever.
They’re disturbing to everyone, but the fact that this one occurred in a location often thought of as a retirement community reminds us of the effects such a disaster can cause to the senior community.
The elderly rely on routine, the status quo and normalcy to help stabilize their daily lives. Often times any unforeseen or unpredicted event that might mildly affect a younger person, frequently upsets and disturbs members of the older generation and has a seismic impact on their life.
On January 17, 1994 at 4:30AM, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Los Angeles basin. I’ll never forget how relieved I was when I arrived at my elderly grandmother’s apartment building located smack in the middle of the Northridge epicenter. I spotted her wrapped in a blanket sitting in the darkness along with other residents in the courtyard area. She was dazed but unscathed. If not for the kindness of her neighbors, she would never have made it out of her apartment, which by the way, was later condemned.
Earthquake or Emergency Survival Kits are must-haves for Californians and other earthquake prone areas, but it’s highly unlikely that items like plastic sheeting and duct tape, a wrench and pliers, or a road map, (all items recommended for survival kits), would come in handy at such a time for someone 84 years old. It’s a really a good idea to:
• Discuss a plan with an elderly friend or relative so they know if possible you will come to their location and they will not be left alone. Hope goes a long way in a disaster.
• Do help them prepare an emergency supply of water and non-perishable food to keep at their location.
• Include a plastic packet with medications and dosage instructions that will last for a few days.
• Include an extra set of eyeglasses if possible.
• Attach a Flashlight near their bed.
• Last but not least, include a whistle kept bedside. If you end up buried beneath rubble, it could save your life.
• Discuss the inevitability of aftershocks.
If your loved one lives in an Assisted Living or hospice situation, take a moment and find out which ones place importance on disaster situations.
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