Thursday, December 3, 2015

Practical Holiday Gifts to Keep Senior Loved Ones Safe

Santa is making his list and checking it twice. This holiday season, make your own list—of emergency preparation plans, that is! Are you shopping for your older parents, grandparents or other senior loved ones? It can be hard to think of the perfect gift for older adults. A tie, a fruitcake, cologne, a gadget that he or she is unlikely to use…?
Here’s an idea for a thoughtful holiday gift: give the gift of preparedness! Year after year, news coverage of natural disasters and other emergencies raises awareness that older adults are hardest hit by the effects of storms, tornadoes, earthquakes and other disasters. For example: almost three-fourths of the people who died as the result of Hurricane Katrina were over 60. When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, about half of the victims were seniors. Older adults in Japan are still feeling the effects of the 2011 tsunami. And heat waves claim the lives of seniors every year.
Seniors with physical limitations may be stranded in their homes, unable to evacuate, cut off from the services upon which they rely. Older adults who use oxygen, power wheelchairs, dialysis and other medical equipment face real danger in power outages.
It may not seem very festive to focus on this reality during the holidays—but this is a great time for the whole family to show their love and caring for senior relatives by taking practical steps to ensure their safety.
Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) compiled a list of holiday gift ideas that can help loved ones be prepared.
“Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, and the holiday season provides a great opportunity to ensure that you and your loved ones are taking simple steps to be prepared,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As families gather this holiday season, I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and discuss what you would do in case of an emergency or disaster. The public is the most important member of our nation’s emergency response team and the more the public does to be prepared, the more successful this team will be.”
Fugate reminds us that the most important gift is the gift of time. During holiday visits, discuss with your loved one what they would do in case of an emergency or disaster. Find out the location of the nearest emergency shelter. If your loved one has medical challenges, uses dialysis, oxygen, or an electric wheelchair, find out which shelter is designated for people with special needs. Arrange for someone to help if your loved one needs to evacuate, and someone to check in if your loved one is advised to shelter in place. Create a family communications plan so everyone knows how they would get in touch if they were separated when an emergency takes place.
Once the planning stage is over, you still probably want to wrap up a pretty package for that Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah gathering, right? What about emergency preparedness supplies that are practical and show your concern for your loved one’s well-being? FEMA suggests these gifts that could assist in disasters:
  • A home disaster kit, including first aid supplies, food, water, blankets, flashlight and some extra clothing
  • NOAA weather radio with extra batteries
  • Enrollment in a CPR or first aid class
  • Smoke detectors
  • Fire extinguishers (for kitchen, garage, car, etc.)
  • Foldable ladders for second-story escape from a fire
  • Car kits (emergency flares, shovel, ice scraper, flashlight and fluorescent distress flags)
  • Pet disaster kit (food, water, leash, dish, carrying case or crate)
  • Battery powered lamps
For more information and preparedness tips, visit, where you will find special information for older adults (
Love and caring are the real spirit of the holidays. And knowing your loved one is that much safer brings increased peace of mind to everyone—a welcome gift indeed!
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise with information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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