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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rethinking food storage/disasters with elderly or sick parents

My friend Kari B. wrote this about her parents:

Mom is sick. She has been sick since Dad died. We've been to a number of doctors and can't seem to put a finger on what the problem is. She has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and Chronis gastritious. (Celiac is hard to detect...sometimes it takes YEARS. We feel blessed that it was diagnosed so quickly.) But. that means no wheat products (bread or pasta). 

We've done tons of research the last 2 weeks and have found that lots of people can't have gluten and it's really just a matter of cutting out a few things and making sure what you do eat --you CAN eat. For a family that lives on wheat bread, this has been not necessarily tricky or hard...just an adjustment-to say the least. 

          We've had to rethink our food storage for Mom--what CAN we store that she can eat, or carry with us in an event of emergency. Special diets during an emergency can be tricky. When my Dad was alive, he and mom said that if there was a hurricane, they would never leave the house. They would just stay here and stick it out, (and die, if the Lord wanted) ...there was simply too much to take (bathroom supplies, bottled oxygen, special food, special bed, etc.) It is something to really think about.

          We know a lot of people that are older that it would take a LOT to help them through a disaster. My dad without his liquid food (not just anything can go down a peg tube) couldn't have survived-besides being miserable being relocated without his bed and supplies--it would've been super hard to even have gone to a hotel and stay--handicapped bathroom needs.

  Lots of people with special needs will need so much more in a crisis situation.
Something to think about. 

Emergency Preparedness with older folks:

1. Transportation needs:
          My dad had a wheelchair, oxygen, and special food. To evacuate, these three things would've filled the entire back of the van.

2. Medicine
          Getting or having medicine on hand can get tricky when you take a lot on a daily basis. Most doctors aren't willing to give you a 3 month supply.    

3. Food
          Are there special dietary needs? Foods they can't eat with the whole family. My Dad was fed through a Peg-Tube. Keeping enough canned liquid food on hand was next to impossible. The doctor would only order 3 weeks at a time.
Mom can't have gluten--so no granola bars, or cold cereal, or bread for a sandwich.  Other things are available, but not the variety or ease.

4. Paper information
          Some people have a bag with ALL of their important information in it. Wills, financial information, who to contact, etc. This is so important because this generation usually does NOT have information on the computer.

5. Shelter
          Moving my father, who slept on a hospital bed, and had daily nursing needs would've been tough.
 Planning ahead is the key. Just stopping to think about how to help ease the trauma of an emergency. And, how once the emergency is over... reestablishing a lifestyle and getting back into a routine.

The emergency doesn't end when the hurricane/earthquake is over. Often the world does not just "get back to normal". We are seeing that in Japan. Trying to find food, shelter, and medicines will take time and flexibility...something older folks may not have a lot of.

Children my age (in their 40's--can I really be that old?) are starting to see their parents age. It is our time to step up and help make sure that things are thought through and to make sure that our parents have a PLAN.

(Thanks, Kari.  These are important things to think about.)

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