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Taking care of seniors in an emergency


November 9, 2016

Last year, I wrote about our response to the devastating floods in October 2015.  Fast forward 12 months, and we again faced a threat.  Although the floods in October 2015 were a surprise, impacts from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 were anticipated and predicted.   You may wonder what we do to prepare, and help our clients prepare, for the impacts from inclement weather.
For many of our clients, we are their “lifeline.”  They have no family locally, and are often isolated and alone in their homes.  Therefore, when there’s an emergency, we first want to make sure that they’re doing okay in their homes. Before a predicted event, we print lists of our clients, their contact information, and the names and telephone numbers of the person named as their emergency contact.  Several staff members take these lists with them when they leave the office so that if we need to call our clients, we can split up the lists and contact all of them quickly.  We know which seniors are frailest and most vulnerable in their homes, and who doesn’t have a local support system.  These are the first ones we call after an emergency.
Many of our senior clients depend on us as their primary source of food.  Because of funding, we are only able to deliver five meals a week.  If a senior relies on us for food, and we miss bringing them even one meal, it can jeopardize their health.  We provide shelf-stable meals that don’t require heating or much preparation that a senior can keep on hand for an emergency.  In addition, if we anticipate that we might be closed on a weekday, we will send out a shelf-stable meal beforehand.  Our volunteers are great in helping distribute shelf-stable meals ahead of an emergency.
We also have good relationships with both the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department.  We know that we can call on either department to check on our elderly clients if we are concerned about them in their home.
We take care of our clients in an emergency by being prepared, and helping them to prepare.  You can help seniors in an emergency by checking in on your elderly neighbors and friends.  An elderly person isolated in their home may be lonely, and they can never have too many people checking on them, emergency or not.

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