Quality Home Health Care

Hurricane Preparedness – Plan For Your Elderly Parents Safety

Hurricane Preparedness For Your Elderly Parents

Hurricane Preparedness For Your Elderly Parents

Natural and man-made disasters make the news almost every day. The news talks about the damage, destruction, the survivors and those not so lucky. To prepare for a natural disaster is very difficult because you never know exactly what will happen. When you have elderly parents in your home, near by, in assisted living facility or across the country you need to help them plan and be ready.

  1. Evaluate common natural disasters in your parents area. Some areas flood, some are prone to hurricanes and others tornadoes. If they are in the path of all three suggest moving! Once you have a handle on what could happen look for local agencies that give help and information in a time of crisis. Make an easy to find note with the radio station and local disaster relief shelter and keep the info up to date.
  2. Look and plan for the living situation your parent is in. If they are living alone, what is the plan to evacuate? If they are in assisted living what assistance is given if staff is unable to come to work? Do not neglect planning for a parent who lives with you, make sure they know where you would be evacuated to if they are not at home at the time of disaster.
  3. In the case of a flood or hurricane, discuss with your parents what procedures should be to secure their home and valuables. Water damage is the most common issue so it might be wise to store things in plastic totes. Try and pre-think about what is most important and make sure it is not in the lowest parts of the house. Smart storage year round will avoid a panic in the last moment trying to move things to higher ground.
  4. Create a phone tree for disasters and a time frame for that phone tree to activate. Make sure your parent has your phone number on a physical card in their wallet as cell phones might not work or run out of power and you don’t want bad memory preventing them from calling to say they are okay. Try and get the phone numbers of their neighbors to check in if your parent does not answer, or, if they evacuate to check on the property. It might be hard to talk to a stranger but it will be worth it to have the safety net.
  5. What to bring, what to leave, what is important. This question can’t be answered in a short article, there are books dedicated to the subject. The short version is your parent needs their medication, copies of important papers, and, some cash. After those items add what they have time, space and ability to take. If your parent has medical issues that use electrics such as wheelchair or c-pap, have backup plans since electric might not be available post disaster.
  6. Put together a Hurricane preparedness disaster supply kit for your parents.  This kit should include –
    • Water
    • 3 days supply of non-perishable food
    • Flash light and extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Whistle to signal for help
    • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Manual can opener for food
    • Cell phone with chargers
    • Inverter or solar charger

The bottom line is that disasters are hard to plan for but try and make a plan that is simple and versatile and easy to follow. If your parent has memory issues go over the plan and make visible reminders. Hurricanes and floods usually have advance warning, make sure your parent heeds the warnings so they can be one of the positive stories on the news.

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DNR Orders – What You Need to Know About “Do Not Resuscitate”

At a hospital admission they will ask if you have a DNR order – Do Not resuscitate? It is an important question as it answers one of your end of life, medical emergency questions. Have you thought about your wishes? Have you made them known through a DNR order? Learn more about it.

 

If you are rendered unconscious and the Paramedic is in your home, would they know or would there be someone there to tell them that you have a Do Not Resuscitate Order? If you are in the hospital emergency room, would anyone there know your wishes? Your doctor, a family member, your lawyer? If your wish is to NOT be resuscitated, you do NOT want your heart to be Restarted, then you must make it legally known and easily accessible. You must have a copy of your DNR visible to  Emergency or Ambulance personnel and with you at the hospital, to be put on your chart.

If you are in a hospital, nursing home, have home care, in a rehab facility or in hospice care and there isn’t a copy of your DNR, then staff is required to perform lifesaving measures, CPR and so forth – whether this is what you want or not. If you stop breathing, like on television, the crash cart will come to your bedside and medical procedures will continue.

Once in the hospital following a surgery, a monitor just kept beeping, it was the middle of the night and i recall thinking, I must be crashing, why aren’t the nurses rushing in? It turned out the magnesium drip was finished. I told the RN what I had been thinking and she said “if you were crashing, you’d be unconscious”. Oh gee, I didn’t know that, I’m not a medically trained person. I know medical things from Television — I know very little and part of that is probably wrong. The heavy chest compressions needed in CPR can cause  broken ribs, heart damage or a punctured lung in the elderly. If not done quickly and correctly, your heart may come back, but not all of your brain capacity as it may cause brain damage.

Beyond CPR, EMT workers or hospital staff may need to uses breathing tubes- in-tubate the patient, electrical shocks (the paddles) to bring the heart back into its rhythm, start many IV lines to deliver fluids and medications, if you are unconscious they can go ahead and connect you to life support machines – family may not be notified till afterwards. This happens daily around the country. It can happen to you.

The outcomes aren’t very good in the elderly who undergo these life saving measures. The statistics show low survival rates for the elderly who have multiple medical conditions or morbidities. This begs the question of ourselves and society wide – is it worth it – the efforts and costs for these extraordinary measures if the positive outcomes are so low and the patient will still be ill.

Only a doctor can sign DNR orders, also known as “No Code” orders in hospitals. If at time of admission you or your family member is not asked about their preference to be resuscitated or not, then you must ask your doctor. Speak to the nurse, the social worker, get to the doctor and get the order written if your wish is to be let go and not be resuscitated.

In other long term care settings, DNRs are part of the admissions process. If you wish to have a DNR order, have your doctor sign one and include it with your admissions paperwork. Have a family member also have a copy.

Once you are already thinking about a DNR order, consider the other end of life or serious medical decisions which may be needed to be made, but you may not be conscious to do so. Anyhow, it has to be made into a legal document. Whether it is a PIC form (Preferred Intensity of Care) or an Advanced Medical Directive, you must have it drawn up, completed and signed. There are several choices of just how much lifesaving procedures you want, or dont’ want, including durations of time before you wish to be let go. Who have you designated as your Medical Surrogate or has Medical Power of Attorney for you?

These are serious and unpleasant things to think about but so are having your wishes for medical care and end of life wishes honored, respected and fulfilled. It is also a kind consideration to put these CHOICES down on paper, made into legal documents for your loved ones. It will prevent anyone having to make these heartwrenching decisions for you, it will mitigate feelings of guilt as well.

So, if you do not want to be resuscitated then you must follow through and get these legal matters taken care of. Speak to your doctor, get it on record, get copies of your DNR and Medical Directives to your trusted family members and into your medical chart. If you live alone, or have a caregiver, you may want to put them in and envelope MARKED DNR or EMT Paramedic and place it on the refrigerator or near the front door so that it can be seen, followed and brought with you to the hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After a Family Loss – Still Much To Do

Boca Home Care Services with our sister Medicare certifies agency, Boca Home Care, are able to take care of you or an aging parent both medically and assist in keeping you safe in your own home. In working with such an elderly population – folks in their 80s, 90s and even up to 104 (thus far), we also want to help families after a loss of their loved one.  Many of our clients live out of state so coordinating and managing the tasks after the funeral is also important to us. We work with a unique company, Family Transition Services and wish to inform you of their services.

 

A Social Work Based Home Care Company

 

Death is a scary and perhaps to some, an unseemly topic. Who among us is not going to die? Thought so. After all, in a way, life is a dead end. Even working in the Geriatric field, it isn’t often discussed, outside of Hospice care. We recommend Hospice care to anyone who is facing the end stage of their life. It may be the most humane, dignified approach we have to suffering and death. It is also covered by Medicare. There are three excellent Hospices in the  Broward and Palm Beach county areas: Hospice by the Sea, VITAS and Hospice of Palm Beach County.

As our Blog often urges, plan ahead. Do you and your loved ones have their Medical Directives & Surrogates in place? Burial plans? Arrangements for out of state issues? The time to do so is NOW.

A new company whose owner, Arnie Brownstein, is very familiar to us, is Family Transition Services. He and his team will help a family deal with the concrete things which need to be done following a family member’s death.  This is a most difficult time to have to deal with mundane bureaucratic things when you are mourning and in grief. The tasks are all the more difficult if you live out of Florida.

Some of their services include: emptying out belongings, closing accounts, real estate sales,  the legal and financial paperwork, guarding against identity theft, discontinuing of services and more.

You and family may wish to do all this yourselves. It may even be helpful to you. If not, you may wish to call for a consult.  As a Social Work based home care company, we continue to care about our client families and want you to know about this service which is new to South Florida.  

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Senior’s Tip List – Some Questions You & Your Family Can Answer Together

 Recommendations and tips for Seniors and Family members to discuss together in order to put together a care plan and have legal matters in place before any health or weather emergency occurs. Better to plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

Boca Home Care Services offers these questions to you and your Aging parents. They are for you to discuss and are a starting point to taking actions. Safety is KEY to PREVENT FALLS.  There are also several LEGAL papers to be discusses with in the family and then with an Elder Law Attorney. Coming from home from the Hospital or a RehaB Center also requires certain actions to help PREVENT REHOSPITALIZATION.

Speak to your Primary Care Physician and Your Family Members to help put a plan together when there isn’t a crisis happening. A Safety Plan will help ease everyone through a health or weather emergency.

 

  1. If you have just been discharged from a hospital or Rehab Center, have you made your follow up appointment with your primary physician – within the first week of returning home?

 

  1. What is your system for remembering to take your medications? Do you need any help with medications?

 

  1. Who is your Medical Surrogate or Proxy?

 

  1. Who has a Limited Durable Power of Attorney for you?

 

  1. Does your primary doctor have a copy of each in your file?

 

  1. Do you have questions about your Long Term Care Insurance policy?

 

  1. If you or your spouse is a Veteran, do you know about Veteran’s Benefits like Aid and Attendance?

  

  1. Do you know what your Medicare Home Health benefits are?

 

  1. Have you had a home safety assessment to help prevent falling?

 

  1. If you need extra help with personal care or household tasks are you aware of hiring a Home Health Aide?

 

  1. What is your Hurricane Plan, will you stay at home or where would you go? 

 

Please speak with your Doctor or call us for assistance.       

561-989-0611 * 877-706-0785 * www.bocahomecareservices.com

 

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June 1st, 2012 – Hurricane Season Begins – Get Prepared Now

 

Boca Home Care Services helps clients and families get their Hurricane Plan in order and updated. Florida is “On Guard” starting June 1st, the beginning of the new Hurricane season. Tips are provided on how to prepare for a storm and its aftermath. Learn how to be ready with supplies, or by being somewhere else, out of the Hurricane’s path.

 

It is Hurricane Season again, all of us in South Florida and along the coasts feel a touch of anxiety or nervousness as we see what Mother Nature has in store this season. Beryl is already spinning in Northern Florida. The key is to BE PREPARED -Especially if you live in an Evacuation Zone along the Water – We are ALL Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts till November.

In our initial home visit to new or perspective clients we answer a lot of questions about care, insurance, caregivers and so forth. We also ask some basic questions and assess home safety & the Hurricane Plan. Amazingly most of the responses are: “I’m staying right here, I have shutters, have been through storms before”, or “Gee, that is a good question, I don’t have a Hurricane Plan. I don’t know what I’d do, maybe go to a hotel?” Well, say no more, Boca Home Care Services creates their Hurricane Plan with them: where they would go, who their emergency contacts are, how they will get there, supplies needed and so forth in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

According to Mike Lyons of  WPBF 25 News, the early projections from Colorado State University, (Dr. William Gray and his team of forecasters) are predicting ten named storms, four becoming hurricanes and only two major hurricanes. This is a desirable break from the above normal activity of Hurricane seasons the last couple of years. STILL, it only takes one bad hurricane to cause a lot of damage and loss, I.E. Wilma. Also, in 1992, another relatively quiet season, Andrew blew in as a Category 5.

So, take a look and review your papers, kits, supplies and update or refresh accordingly. Make sure your contact information is up to date. Remember, the storm is the first part, and plan to be out of harm’s way. The lack of electricity, for days or weeks is the second part of your planning, when detailed logistics and supplies for food, water, batteries, medications, transportation are needed.

Checklist for “must-have” items in your house:

Drinking water for at least 3-5 days (at least 6 gallons per person)
Battery operated radio and/or TV
Battery operated clock
Flashlights or Battery operated lights.
Batteries for all of the above – A, AA, C & D sized batteries
Manual can opener
Toilet paper
Lighters or water proof matches
First Aid Kit
Extra Cash – ATMs likely not to work as they use electricity
Plastic garbage bags
Extra fuel for a generator
Ice chest
Soap
Disinfectant
Disposable plates/cups and utensils
Additional prescription medications –  Refill Now.

If a storm is coming, make sure you do the following:

FILL the gas tank in your car.
Fill your bath tub and a sink or large container
with water.
Semi stock freezer so new meat isn’t wasted.
Have important papers and copies – insurance (home, hurricane and medical), licenses, a few checks, banking info, photos – anything you don’t want to lose or replace and need – in waterproof sealable plastic bags which you can quickly take with you if you must evacuate.
Know your evacuation routes.
Know of hotels in area and which ones take pets if applicable.
Know the shelters in your area.

Stay informed: watch the weather reports, listen to weather warnings.

Store extra non-perishable foods:
Canned tuna, sardines, salmon — pull top openings preferred
Canned fruit and vegetables
Dried fruits, nuts
Cereals, crackers, cookies, rice cakes
Peanut butter and Jelly
Prepared foods that are tasty cold — cook the things in your freezer, make spaghetti.
Juices, tea or coffee and powdered milk

We all remember Wilma – the storm is the scary part, but the aftermath, going without electricity is the harder part. Be prepared to live at least a few days or week without electricity.

Emergency phone numbers:

Emergency Management – Palm Beach County – 877-655-0495
Red Cross – 561-833-7711
Fla. Department of Insurance – 800-342-2762
Sheriff Office – 561-688-3000
Boca/Delray Sheriff – 561-278-2644

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