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Preparing for a Natural Disaster

       With all the news stories about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the destruction caused to Texas, Florida and Caribbean islands, and their aftermath, one story caught my eye.  The deaths of 8 nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida highlights the especially vulnerable position that the elderly face in times of crisis and public upheaval.

       In case you missed it, the Florida nursing home lost power along with many other businesses and homes.  Temperatures in the facility soared without air conditioning causing the deaths of the elderly residents, who have less ability to handle temperature extremes.  There were some reports that the home was located across the street from a hospital and that the facility did not immediately ask for assistance from either police or the hospital until it was too late for the residents who died, although other news articles made no mention of a delayed response by the nursing home’s administration.

       What can we learn, if anything, from these tragedies?  Something that I always tell clients and prospects about long term care.  It is better to plan ahead then to react in crisis.  Frequently we have had clients who retired years earlier to warmer climates such as Florida leaving children who remain living in New Jersey.  As the years pass and they need increasing amounts of care, some families bring their parents back up north while others delay the decision, hoping they’ll never have to cross that road.

       But, after a catastrophe like Harvey, Irma or Superstorm Sandy, it certainly is much easier to look after our more vulnerable loved ones the closer they are geographically.  Some families may regret not having brought elderly members closer.  It does mean making tougher decisions we hoped to put off indefinitely but watching the events in Texas and Florida unfold the past 2 weeks should remind us that being proactive is almost always the best approach.   Don’t wait till the next storm hits.  Take steps now to keep elderly loved ones safe.