Senior Emergency Tips, Plans and Packs

how to make a senior emergency kit

Your own senior emergency kit

Emergency Kit for Seniors…Ideas
by francy Saunders

Dear Francy; Mom is in a retirement home so I’m not worried about her care in the middle of a small emergency. But after watching Japan and all the sadness, I worry about who would help her in a big emergency?

Katrina, Japan…I think we have all taken note, that it takes at least three days before people are getting help. That is what happens, there is always a time that we are each alone and need to plan on how to make it over the first few days of a big emergency. So I wanted to write down some ideas, I have given classes in Senior Emergency for many years and I will share some notes with you.

These ideas are for anyone but I’m gearing the information for older seniors. Find a backpack…they are easier to grab and take out the door and if you have to walk you can put it on your back. If you are weak, be practical, make the backpack very light and keep only the most important life-sustaining things inside and you can drape the backpack on your walker to carry it, if need be. If you cannot carry anything use a small overnight case with wheels.

Your Emergency Pack;

You can buy a pre made emergency pack at large stores in the sports department. There are simple things put together for your needs. You can then add to it or make your own.

THINK…what would I need with no electricity or if I have to actually leave my home?

  1. Light weight slicker/raincoat rolled up in bottom of the pack. Add a Ziploc with 3 pairs of socks, 3 undies, hand cleaner, small plastic cup and a small pack of hand wipes from the dollar store.
  2. Clean Ziploc bags; small baby shampoo can be used for hands or hair. Small Toothpaste and new toothbrush. Small Hairbrush. Use small tissues in your pack for toilet paper. If you need bladder control, add in a few pads for that purpose. Gum can clear your mouth and make you feel like you are having food, and if it’s sugar based it will give you a boost. A plastic garbage bag for you to use for many things, folded flat.
  3. Rx Ziplock; buy a box (usually 3) face masks, small Sun protector cream, Neosporin tube, a few Band-Aids, aspirin or Advil and chap stick.
  4. Meds; Make a copy of your medical ID and insurance and fold it and add to a Ziploc with information. A pair of old glasses in a hard case. A photocopy of your Rx from the doctor (glasses too) and 3-7 days of meds in a Ziploc container. Be able to tell the rescue people the name of the pills you take each day. If you are Diabetic or other health issue…make a large ID for the outside of your backpack and say DIABETIC…Ann Clark. I have one for George that says ALZHEIMER’S GEORGE – that way anyone helping you will see it and understand your needs.
  5. Write down a few names for others to connect with to help you. Example for George: Wife; Francy Cell #0000, Sister in Oregon Cell# Email address, Son in Calif Cell# Email#, Dr Name Office phone# — if you’re sick or confused, someone can look at that paper and help you get to family for help.
  6. Pair of older tennis shoes, small radio, matches, a can or bottle opener and some sort of small pocket knife, spoon and fork. Large black marker to leave a note on your house about where you went, so your family can find you.
  7. Money/10-$1 bills/2-$5 bills / 1-$10 bill  Put that in an envelope and keep in your pack or case. If you need to get a taxi or pay for help you will have a few dollars to do so. Do not put in too much money you do not want to be robbed. Copy the name of your insurance and policy # so you can contact them about your home or renters insurance.
  8. Small blankets out of a foil type of cloth can be purchased for your kit. A blow up neck pillow that stores flat and folds up. There are other items that you will find in the hardware stores or large chain stores in the sports section and always look for things at the Dollar store. Once this backpack is prepared put it by the exit door in a place that is easy for you to get to and grab. If the power is off and you have to leave the home, you can crawl to the door to stay safe and pull or push your backpack out the door with you.

In the middle of an emergency:

Seniors need to ask for help, do not stay behind, do not stay alone. Go outside or put a big message in your window with HELP on it so someone comes to help you. Find a young couple to join. You can watch the children while they do the needed chores. They will have the energy to help you.

The world has changed, now messages get out on cell phones, text on cell phones, Internet via Skype, ham radio and satellite phones. So be prepared with the family information in your kit so someone can read it and make a call to your family.

Make a plan ahead of time to connect with family. Say something happens big in your town; make a plan that everyone will go to a certain house, or a certain central place in the city. Or appoint a family member out of your area to be the central hub of information. That way everyone will be on the same plan of action. Red Cross will help you find your relatives so try hard to stay calm and know that when the emergency passes, things will clear and help will come to you.

As a senior you can help make the emergency calm, by telling children stories and re-assuring the other adults. You have years of experience of small emergencies…so during a crisis you’re a valuable help and your caring ways will ease a great deal of tension for others.

  1. Take UR marriage certificate to a copy shop and have it reduced so you can put it in your kit. Copy your passport information, if you can not grab your purse or your ID  the emergency – Your backpack will have copies of things to help you. Tuck in a small book of family pictures –so if you have nothing left, your memories would be in place. Remember everything goes into  Ziploc bags to keep dry.
  2. Pets/Put an extra lead and/or cat carrier by your backpack. Have a couple of days of food for dog or cat in a Ziploc and a small bowl for food and water. Make sure your animals have ID’s. If you cannot take them with you…let them be free in the backyard, not locked in the house or on a chain. If you love your pets you will leave your home and be safe, you can always get reconnected with your pets in the days after an emergency. Many emergency safe spots will now take animals, no need for you to stay in peril. Your animals will be OK if you think ahead and have a plan.
  3. Water is heavy; take a few bottles with you for your own use. At least three small bottles will keep you well for a couple of days. If you can tuck in a couple of Boost or Ensures so you have protein shakes that would be great.
  4. Food:/ Take protein bars, they last in your backpack and they are easy to eat and keep you nourished until you are helped with real food. Do not give your food away. Eat privately…you have to keep up your strength. Younger people can go longer without food…seniors cannot. Be sure to have those protein bars well wrapped and in an additional Ziploc for safety.

No matter what the major emergency is… it will be a few days before the services reach you. So just think through what you would do. Where would you go to be safe, ask a neighbor to help you, or know you will sit on your front porch until someone comes to help. Talking about it and knowing that even in a retirement community…you need to be prepared. If there are two of you, make two backpacks the more you have for each other the better. It’s always best to plan to stay close to your home, walking may have been enjoyable on a warm summer day…but not in the middle of a crisis. Just stay low, stay safe and be helpful to others, so they will be helpful to you.

When you think of things when life is good and calm…and plan for an emergency you can then put the thoughts away and go about your life. You will know that no matter what happens you are prepared and ready to face it. Millions of elders have lived through horrid emergencies and have had worthwhile lives and continued to give their family and friends joy for years after. BE PREPARED- you are loved.

For other tips please go to my website

Thanks for all you do for your seniors…francy


Alzheimer’s Valentine Secret Surprise

Alzheimer's Valentine

George's Valentine Surprise


It’s a strange road you lead when you’re a full-time caregiver / spouse. The days seem to fill with things that have nothing to do with you…but are so important that you find there is little time left at the end of the day…to be you. That was how it was going after the holidays. It was time for George to start his treks to his various doctor appointments. Getting the appointments getting George ready for and to the appointments and then the regular daily chores seems to blur the months together.

I found that it was Valentine’s Day. I had planned a lunch out with my sister and her husband so George would feel the change in the daily routine. Before I got up…George had left the bedroom early and gone to the kitchen to prepare his tea and bagel. His routine for breakfast has been set for quite some time. I have been pleased that he wakes each morning to remember the routine. But as the months go by the routine has been changed from a breakfast and tea for us both…down to a toaster bagel and tea just for him. I’m fine with that, the doctor has advised he keep doing small chores and the easy breakfast keeps his mind ticking away. Sometimes he leaves the tea on a forgotten counter, or the bagel in the toaster, but it’s the thought process that counts.

So I was happy when he returned with tea in hand and warm bagel wrapped in a paper towel and said; “Happy Valentines Day, Francy.” It was a pleasant surprise that he had remembered the day without my coaching him. I wasn’t feeling well. A small allergy had blown into a sinus infection with swollen itchy eyes…so I was nursing myself and feeling totally off the beam. But the tone of George’s voice brought me back to the blessing that I still have him by my side and he still remembers my name and the extra special day.

Oh, the years that have gone before were so different. George was quite smitten with Valentine’s Day. He would always bring me a sweet piece of jewelry; some years expensive and other years modest…but a remembrance that I still cherish to this day. He would have a fancy card, flowers and usually a dinner out. Sometimes we would go to a special Valentine function or dance and he would dress to the nine’s in his tux or dinner jacket. I remember all those years; I have to remember them because he has forgotten them. So, I often remind him of one of our sweet adventures when he is in a sour mood. And I remind myself when I join him in a particularly difficult day.

I got up that morning and wrapped myself in my robe and grumbled to myself as I scuffed my way down the hall to the kitchen. Thinking of making my own tea and taking a bevy of pills and eye drops to get myself well again. As I rounded the corner and entered the room…there was a large piece of paper propped up on the counter by our fish tank. At first I couldn’t really focus on what it was because my eyes were so swollen and so I had to move closer to view it.

There in front of me was a handmade Valentine card from a man who does not have an ounce of art talent in his body. I cried of course; cried tears that really had more meaning then just the card he had made, the tears were for how even when our life has changed so much…there is still love.

George had asked me to take him out to get a card that week. But my eyes were so bad I did not want to drive. I had told myself to remember to ask Cheryl to help him do a card for me on the computer, but that had also gotten forgotten in the midst of the daily routines. So when George got up that morning he was without a card and decided to take the matter into his own hands. He went up to my office and found some art paper and came down to the kitchen and found an ad flyer on the table with gifts for Valentines on it. He carefully cut out the jewelry from the ad and glued it to the paper and made his own card. I suppose when you read this you think it was a sweet thing to do. But you would not understand the many steps all of this took…it took him a couple of hours to do the project. While I was sleeping he was busy cutting away and pasting. He had to put all the thoughts together, remember the tasks, find the objects to cut, glue, and paste and then put a theme of a card together. It was by far the most complicated task that he had done in months. There were not tears of sadness and loss…for once, there were tears of joy for his creative self that was trying so hard to come to the top of his brain.

I have said it before but I feel my mother put it in words that I shall always relate to; as she aged into her 100th year she said she was becoming so upset with her daily regression. She shared with me; “Remember how a young baby starts to learn things and every day the mother is filled with pride and joy at a new ability the child has added? First it’s the baby’s eyes begin to follow movement, then they turn over, then they hold up their head and start to sit. Then the crawling and walking and talking come and you can barely keep up with the changes. Each new step is a mother’s rejoice. Well I am doing just the opposite. Each day I seem to lose ability. Little by little I can feel my body go backwards, getting weaker and weaker.” That is how it is now with George’s brain, day by day little pieces of his brain retreat and he becomes less of who is was as a person all his life. But this time; he was able to reach down and become something more. It was a joy on a day that like all other days except for its name of St Valentine’s Day. I think somewhere mother is rejoicing in George’s day of creative power…and certainly St Valentine is giving us a wink.

There will be a Valentine’s Day that I will be without George and when that day comes I am not going to remember all the fancy presents, flowers and dances he used to take me to…nope. I am going to remember this card of love that he worked so hard to piece together step by step…so he could reveal his love for me.

How lucky am I?

Please do come and join me with more information on caring for Alzheimer’s and other senior care issues

Thank you for all you do for your own senior in care…francy

George in office
George reading while I work in office