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Disaster Preparedness for Alzheimer’s Patients

Disaster situations, such as a hurricane or fire, have significant impact on everyone’s safety, but they can be especially upsetting and confusing for individuals with dementia.
Disaster Preparedness for Alzheimer’s Patients
Advance preparations
• If your loved one lives in a residential facility, find out about its disaster and evacuation plans. Ask if you will be responsible for evacuating your loved one.
• Whether your loved one lives with you, or you are a long-distance caregiver, make sure evacuation plans include his or her specific needs. Check your local Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations that provide services for the elderly to see if help is available.
• Prepare an emergency kit (see below for suggestions).
• Enroll in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia that wander or who have a medical emergency. Call toll-free at 1.888.572.8566 or visit
• If you are already enrolled in MedicAlert + Safe Return, make sure your information is up to date.
If you know a pending disaster is about to occur:
• Get yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s to a safe place.
• If the need to evacuate is likely, do not delay. Try to leave as early as possible to minimize long delays in heavy traffic.
• Alert others (family, friends, medical personnel) that you are changing locations, and give them your contact information. Contact them regularly as you move.
• Be sure there are people other than the primary caregiver who have copies of the person with dementia’s medical history, medications, physician information and family contacts.
• Purchase extra medications.
• If your loved one uses oxygen, be sure to obtain portable tanks.
Emergency kit
Consider preparing an emergency kit in advance. Keep it in a watertight container and store it in an easily accessible location. Your emergency kit might include:
• Easy on/off clothes (a couple of sets).
• Supplies of medication (or minimally, a list of medications with dosages).
• Velcro shoes/sneakers.
• A spare pair of eyeglasses.
• Incontinence products.
• Extra identification items for the person, such as an ID bracelet and clothing tags.
• Copies of legal documents, such as a power of attorney.
• Copies of medical documents that indicate the individual’s condition and current medications.
• Copies of insurance and Social Security cards.
• Use waterproof bags to hold medications and documents.
• Physician’s name, address and phone numbers (including cell phone).

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