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Relieving Hurricane Season Stress: Guidance for Seniors & Caregivers

This article offers seniors and their caregivers essential guidance for hurricane preparedness while exploring the ways a senior living community can support older adults before, during, and after a storm strikes.

Relieving Hurricane Season Stress: Guidance for Seniors & Caregivers
Days are longer, the sun shines stronger, schools are out, and it’s that time of year again - hurricane season! Warmer weather and warming waters signal the arrival of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. For residents living in areas prone to hurricane impact, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to protect yourself and senior loved ones from the destructive power of hurricanes. 

Knowing what precautions to take and how to prepare can be lifesaving, so before scheduling your fun in the sun this summer, read the following emergency preparedness tips to help relieve the hurricane season stress. 

Create a plan.
Making preparations in advance is the best course of action when thinking through any emergency response. Consider setting aside time to work through the guidance listed below and any local recommendations with loved ones. Assess priority needs (mobility challenges, transportation, medications, etc.) and create an action plan, a list of supplies to gather, and tasks to delegate and complete.

Remember to set aside enough supplies to last at least three days for each person. If you currently have supplies stored within your home, check that items have not expired and are safe to use. Look for a proper storage container or tote to keep items secure, dry, and easily transported if needed:

  • Water (one gallon per person, per day)

  • Non-perishable food (canned food, can opener, dry goods, protein drinks)

  • Matches or lighters in a waterproof container.

  • Battery-powered flashlight and lantern

  • Battery-powered radio

  • Extra batteries, phone charger and cable, and solar chargers

  • Blankets or sleeping bags.

  • Extra clothing & rain gear/poncho

  • Garbage bags, zip-top bags (for keeping things dry)

  • Soap, wipes, and hand sanitizer

  • Toilet paper and paper towels

  • Mess kits for eating, disposable plates/utensils.

  • Reusable water bottles

  • Whistle for alerting rescuers.

  • Waterproof smartphone bag

  • Pet supplies

Need additional help creating a ready-to-go supply kit? Visit www.ready.gov for more information.

Healthcare necessities
Healthcare necessities include personal care and medical supplies needed for an individual’s health and safety. These can include:

  • All medications and supplies, including those only needed for emergencies. 

    • Daily prescriptions 

    • Over-the-counter medications

    • An updated personal medication record

    • An insulated bag with ice packs for short-term temperature control when refrigeration of medication is not available.

  • Eyeglasses/contact lenses and vision care items

  • Hearing aids (and batteries)

  • Mobility aids or assistive devices (walkers, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, etc.)

  • Personal hygiene and continence care items

  • Towel and facecloth.

  • Face masks to filter dust and bacteria.

  • First-aid kit 

Make every effort to fill all prescriptions in advance to ensure ample supply, especially when an evacuation is likely.

Vital Documents
Vital documents are critical to prepare in advance of any storm. Think of these documents as the “paperwork” you file in a safe place, such as:

  • Personal identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, passport)

  • Medication and immunization records

  • Social security cards 

  • Family records (marriage license, etc.)

  • Health insurance cards 

  • Wills, advanced directives, power of attorney documentation 

Safely secure the original copies of these documents in a weatherproof tote (zip-top freezer storage bags work as a quick substitute) and make additional copies for backup purposes. Keep cash, checks, family phone numbers, and bank and insurance policy info easily accessible. 
To simplify this collection process, print the “Vital Document Checklist” offered by AARP’s Operation Hurricane Prepare to help you easily gather the most valuable documents.

Prepare your home.
Whether you are planning to remain in your home during a storm or find a safe haven with relatives miles away, take the necessary steps to secure your home in advance. Connect with close friends and neighbors to learn their plans for weathering the storm and exchange contact and location information. 

  • Secure outdoor furniture, potted plants, trash cans, flags, and other fixtures.

  • Repair roof/window leaks or faulty features that can cause greater damage.

  • Close and lock all windows and doors and cover with shutters or plywood if preparing for high winds.

  • Shut off the main water valve and main electrical fuse or breaker box.

  • Move fragile or valuable objects away from windows and wrap them in plastic wrap or garbage bags.

  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with water to use for bathing, washing clothes, or flushing the toilet. 

  • Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. 

  • Have extra propone available for your grill and be sure it is situated in a safe area. (Never use any propane grill indoors!)

  • Have plastic sheeting, tarps, duct tape, or sandbags available.

Plan to evacuate if needed.
If an evacuation is required, having a plan in place with a list of what to bring with you can help, whether you have ample time to prepare or only a few minutes. Before traveling, check in with close family members, friends, and neighbors and share important contact info.

If possible, have a ready-to-travel, weatherproof kit with your emergency supplies, healthcare necessities, and important documents. Be aware of recommended evacuation routes and shelter locations, and have maps, car keys, cash, and ID easy to access. 

Keep in mind that even minor storms can temporarily knock out power and cell service which can affect the ability to navigate on the road. Mapping functions on a smartphone can still work if you don’t have cell service, but real-time traffic and road closure information are available only with a mobile data connection. Consider downloading a map app, such as Navmii in advance of a storm, or utilize Google Maps’ offline feature.

Could a Senior Living Stay Offer the Best Protection?
For seniors living alone, the thought of having to evacuate or prepare for/endure a severe storm can be paralyzing, especially when loved ones don’t live nearby. Older adults with healthcare needs are at an even greater risk of danger and can suffer from increased cognitive decline, confusion, emotional distress, and physical injury, which places significant stress on family caregivers. 

Senior living residents benefit from a wide range of safety measures that provide support and critical assistance before, during, and after a hurricane or other emergency: 

  • 24/7 staffing and monitoring to ensure resident needs are met.


  • Access to community supplies and resources.


  • Collaborative emergency preparedness measures are initiated by community staff, which means responsibility doesn’t fall solely on the senior and/or their caregiver.


  • Timely, direct, and consistent communication of vital information with residents and families throughout the storm response. 


  • Access to supplemental generator power for select functions, such as refrigeration and medical needs.


  • Emergency lighting and fire prevention measures.


  • Resident safety checks multiple times a day.


  • Secured building and grounds.


  • An approved evacuation plan that provides oversight, staffing, resources, and safe transportation to alternative sites of care if residents’ safety is compromised or there is an extreme threat to the community.


  • Management of the storm recovery response (negotiations with insurance companies, securing bids for repairs, procuring contractors, restoring power, replenishing supplies, etc.)


Additionally, senior living communities are often recognized as priority sites when a large-scale emergency rescue response is needed. This can mean restoration of power happens more quickly and support is delivered more efficiently. 

For older adults living in areas prone to severe storms, a short-term senior living stay during the hurricane season can provide protection, accessibility to critical resources, and immeasurable peace of mind.

Learn more about how to prepare yourself or a senior loved one for the unpredictable outcomes of the hurricane season. Contact us today for additional resources and meet with a senior living expert to see how a Cardinal Bay or Stoney Brook senior living community can help.

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