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Living with Dementia: Preparing for Severe Weather – Part 1

Preparing for severe weather starts with making a plan, especially if you're looking after loved ones with dementia.

In the past few months, Middle Tennessee has seen more than its fair share of bad weather. If severe thunderstorms and tornadoes strike, you may have to evacuate your home or shelter-in-place at short notice. It is important to know what to do in case of an emergency well before disaster strikes, especially if you’re caring for elderly loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

How do you get ready? Preparing for severe weather is the best course of action. You and the person you care for can be prepared for emergency situations by creating a plan, reviewing or practicing it regularly, and keeping an emergency supply kit.

Create the Plan to Prepare for Severe Weather

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.

  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). Consider speaking with your neighbors about developing a check-in system together.

  2. Create a list of contact information for family members and friends. Leave a copy by your phone(s) and include one in your Emergency Supply Kit.

  3. Plan how you will leave and where you will go during an evacuation. If you are living in a retirement or assisted living community, learn what procedures are in place in case of emergencies. Keep a copy of exit routes and meeting places in an easy-to-reach place.

  4. Create a care plan and keep a copy in your Emergency Supply Kit. Try out CDC’s easy-to-use care plan template.

  5. If you have medical, transportation, or other access needs during an emergency, consider signing up for SMART911, Code Red, or your local county registry, depending upon which service your area uses to helps first responders identify people who may need assistance right away.

Assemble the 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. Visit for a list of basic items to gather for your Disaster Supply Kit.

Medical-Related Items

  1. A 3-day supply of medicine, at a minimum. If medications need to be kept cold, have a cooler and ice packs available.

  2. ID band (full name, contact number for family member/caregiver, and allergies)

  3. Hearing aids and extra batteries

  4. Glasses and/or contacts and contact solution

  5. Medical supplies like syringes or extra batteries

  6. Information about medical devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen including model numbers and vender.

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

  8. Your loved one’s care plan

  9. Contact information for family members, doctors, pharmacies and/or caregivers

  10. List of all medications, including the exact name of the medicine and the dosage, and contact information for pharmacy and doctor who prescribed medicine

  11. List of allergies to food or medicines

  12. Copies of medical insurance cards

  13. Copies of a photo ID

  14. Durable power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney documents, as appropriate.

Planning Resources

Check out the following links for additional information to help you plan.

Read Part 2 of this series here. In the meantime, if you need help caring for an elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Johnson McGinnis Elder Care Law & Estate Planning can help. Just give us a call at 615.824.2571.


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