Health Care

What should seniors do as Dorian threatens Florida?

Make sure you have all hurricane supplies you need

The National Weather Service recommends to have these things handy during a hurricane.
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The National Weather Service recommends to have these things handy during a hurricane.

Florida remains in the path of Tropical Storm Dorian.

On Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Florida could be hit by a Category 3 hurricane by 2 a.m. Monday but the cone remains wide as to where it would make landfall — if it does, at all.

As meteorologists watch and warn, the National Hurricane Center has urged everyone along Dorian’s path in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and in Florida to start getting prepared — just in case.

That means having hurricane supplies on hand such as water, batteries, food, flashlights, portable radios. (Even if Dorian isn’t a factor hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.)

And take special care to make sure the elderly remain as safe as possible.

After 14 elderly residents died in a sweltering post-Irma rehabilitation center in Hollywood in September 2017, which led to the arrest of four former staffers on manslaughter charges, many have acute concerns about their loved ones when storms threaten.

Here are some things you can do to prepare seniors if a hurricane or other major storm threatens, according to Zamira and Mario Froio, owners of Always Best Care, a firm that provides in-home care and assisted living services in Broward County.

Keep prescription medications and approved vitamins organized. This includes excess meds they may have on hand so you aren’t scrambling and searching in dim light should the power be out. Also, keep copies of prescriptions in case pharmacies close during or temporarily after a storm passes.

Gather medical records, including information about healthcare needs, insurance cards and emergency contact information.

Stock up on water. The Froios recommend enough to drink at least a gallon a day to provide hydration.

Have nonperishable food handy, preferably rich in B12 vitamin and low in sodium.

Pack a spare bag with blankets, extra clothing and comfortable shoes.

If your senior relies on special medical equipment such as eyeglasses, catheters, batteries or oxygen systems, stock up on spare items in case stores close.

Have a safe place to keep items like flashlights, battery-powered radios, and a whistle easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Place copies of family records and other important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, passports, wills, deeds, and financial, insurance and immunizations records and emergency family contact numbers in a sealed, waterproof bag.

Have cash on hand.

If your loved one is in an nursing home or assisted living facility you need to be on top of them to make sure they have, and you know the details of, an evacuation plan.

“After the terrible tragedy that took place in 2017 [at the now shuttered Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills], Florida and the Agency For Health Care Administration (AHCA) have imposed new regulations making power generators a requirement for nursing homes of all sizes located in Florida. This regulation is now regularly monitored across the state by AHCA,” said Mario Froio.

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“Despite that, Always Best Care’s advice is to confirm that the nursing home is licensed by AHCA and if they are licensed, to confirm when the most recent official review of AHCA’s licensing regulations were performed,” Froio said.

“Secondly, you should have the nursing home confirm that the generator is in place and working,” he said.

“And last, but not least, make sure that the nursing home has an evacuation plan ready to be followed by all staff in the event that there is a long period without power.”

Other tips from Griswold Home Care, which has locations that include Miami-Dade, Broward, the Florida Keys, Sarasota County, Tampa, Jacksonville, Manatee County, Melbourne, Pasco County, Pensacola, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County.

Write everything down, such as contact phone numbers for friends and family, their primary care physician, pharmacist, and local disaster relief numbers. You might not be able to rely on digital means if the power is out and their phones run out of charge.

If your parents or other loved ones live on their own far from you ask a neighbor to check in on them at least once a day and get back to you. Make sure they are comfortable having their neighbors popping over.

Don’t forget their pets. Make sure the pets have extra food on hand and that they know of the availability of animal shelters should it come to an evacuation need.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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