Over 46 million American adults are presently caring for an elderly relative or friend. The majority of these instances actually involve the elderly living in their home with them, while the rest represent adults taking care of “Aunt Ruthie” in her own residence. In the event of a long-term survival scenario, the elderly are typically the most vulnerable, even with all of the advances in technology, and in some instances, because of modern-day technology. Given these vulnerabilities, considering their needs now, in a time of comfort, can provide a great deal of relief and care—even in a time of chaos.
Here are some general supplies I recommend to have on hand in order to make the elderly persons in your life more comfortable. Fortunately, most of these items can be used in a myriad of other scenarios, so you don’t have to feel like you’re exhausting precious money and space for a narrow segment of preparedness.
Checklist of Elderly Care Items
Crutches or a walker, as well as tips and padding- I recently saw some walkers on sale at a national pharmacy for $70. Not bad, perhaps. But then I came home and found both crutches and walkers on Craigslist for less than $10 each. Having some duct tape and foam padding on hand will also be helpful in making these tools fit the needs of most body types.
Reading Glasses- Given the wide availability of reading glasses- even at the gas stations—it may be easy to take this valuable asset for granted. Having your vision impaired is not only dehumanizing, it can also present a compromised security. This is yet another item that you should be on the look-out for on E-bay, garage sales, and Craigslist.
Denture Care Items- I get teased a bit whenever I teach my coupon classes because I have a section in my coupon notebook specifically for denture care. Not only is the denture adhesive good for the obvious, but it is also helpful with a broken or loose tooth.
Baby Wipes- Staying clean and feeling “human” is critical for all of us. But it’s a bit more challenging for those who aren’t physically mobile. Baby wipes will come in handy instead of having to provide a full bathtub of precious water.
Wheelchair- While there are countless electronic wheelchairs in use presently, the likelihood of them remaining operable after any type of a crisis is rare. As such, I’ve keep my eyes peeled for the good old fashioned wheel chairs that folks are getting rid of for the newer models. This way I don’t have to worry about batteries and I have a minimal amount of moving pieces to repair.
Warm Clothing/Blankets- Generally the elderly have poor blood circulation which causes them to be cold easily. So be sure you have on hand some easy, warm throw blankets. Also consider having some sweaters or shawls available, too.
Bed Pan and Shower Curtains- I confess. I have one of the most squeamish stomachs. My heart may desire to be a doctor or a nurse, but my stomach simply won’t let me. (Which is why I try to focus more on essential oils and herb uses so that I don’t have to deal with the “blood” aspect of health care.) Having said that though, not having a bed pan grosses me out a heck of a lot more than having to use one. Along those same lines, I would recommend lining your bedding that's used for the ailing with a plastic shower curtain. They are a heck of a lot cheaper than the plastic bed sheets and yet they are just as effective. They will also come in handy in maintaining privacy in other areas of your home, or can even be used in an outdoor shower setting.
Gloves- Whether they be latex or non, be sure that you have plenty of disposable gloves to protect you and the rest of your family from illness and bacteria spreading. One thing that there’s plenty of in caring for the elderly is body fluids. So be prepared to protect yourself and your patient from spreading deadly germs.
Liquid Nutrition and Straws- When folks are ill, taking food in is a definite challenge. I cared for a cancer patient in her home for about six months and she didn’t even have the strength to lift up a spoon for soup. She also found that having to chew her food was much too arduous. So I had to resort to creating liquid nutrition concoctions for her, holding the glass to her mouth so she could use a straw. The liquid nutrition can be something as simple as stocking up on Ensure or making your own electrolyte drinks. You can also blend sprouts with milk or water and a little bit of extract for taste and have them consume that. I also stock up on a whole food powdered greens drink. Just a teaspoon of that in 8 ounces of water can provide a great deal of necessary nutrition and is easy on the stomach. I like the Vitamineral Green brand which is sold by GreenSmoothieGirl for the best price I can find on it. It tastes like a fresh salad in my mouth. I rely on this solution not only to provide patients with access to nutrition, but also to supplement my own eating habits as well. By the way, you’ll want to make sure that your straws are flexible (as opposed to straight) for the ease of your patient.
While you won’t be able to store months and months of the typical medications needed by the elderly i.e. heart, blood pressure, diabetes, and pain medications, you will be able to care for them and offer them comfort in a times of great stress and chaos. That means peace to me. I couldn’t think of a better medicine.
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You are the only person I've ever heard of who specifically mentions the particular needs of the elderly or infirm as a preparedness topic, and I read a LOT of prepper blogs. THANK YOU! My roommate/best friend is a disabled veteran (who is still able to walk with a cane), and I have 3 elderly relatives living within an hour's drive, so this is definitely going to be a big focus for me to work on having the preparedness to deal with this kind of need.
Wow , Kellene be very afraid. I was just thinking about this, senior/disable folks and what do they do in an emergency. Maybe because I am disabled vet. LOL
A few ideas, cotton washcloths instead of foam padding for crutches. They absorb moisture, easily washed and sanitized and I think they work better at padding.
Sanitation: Buy doggie training pads on sale. They are basically the same thing hospital use for body fluid spills and cheaper.
Start learning some herbal medicine, keep as much prescription meds as you can on hand and rotate it. Look at your condition and what may help to mitigate it. I have heard that using Agave syrup is much better for diabetics, for instance. Learn 1st aid and as much as you can about medicine. Plus get a good Home medical book.
I would also recommend a Comode/Toilet seat. A regular toilet is higher than most porta potties. I found that getting stuck on the toilet one of the things I hated the most when I 1st got ill.
Real home made stock canned, or make your own electrolytes would be great for anyone that is ill.
You may be able to buy some meds at your local Farm Store. Things a human needs a prescription for are available for animals, without a prescription. Neomyacin and penicillin for example.
It's still the same thing. Most have needs and wants. Your needs are just a bit larger, and stuff takes more time. You have to do stuff in smaller batches. But it's still very dooable.
I will find a good Ice cream maker and the Hagen Das recipes. So if I ever need anything from Kellene I'll have a barter item.
All of that is wonderful and will help a lot but what about medication? In the case of a serious disaster, people will only have the meds that are with them. Most pharmacies today only carry a three day supply of meds and they often get shipments daily so the pharmacy will be out quickly. How do we prepare for this?
I stocked up at the dollar stores.Generic copies of Benadryl, ibuprofen, aspirin cold and flu medicine.
All kinds of instant hot and cold packs. Vitamins, you would not believe how much you can get at those stores. It's not perfect but it will help out a lot.
Most critical is know what to use and how to use it.
Jennifer,I don't think you can prepare for a serious disaster where people need their meds for years. If the grid goes down for a couple of years there is going to be a lot of die off, and I shutter to think of it. After the initial die off there is going to be a lot more due to unsanitary conditions...ie people not disposing of their wastes. If you live in an urban area, as much as you prepare there is going to be a lot of people who don't and their behavior is going to impact you greatly. Maybe you could have a neighborhood meeting to discuss this. Have you read One Minute After. It is a pretty scary read but it might give you some ideas. I think one of the most important things is there needs to be a leader of the community and I can foresee a lot of squabbling in most places for that leadership. Smaller towns in rural areas might just be the best place to be. My hubby needs medication, while his need is not life threatening, his quality of life would be greatly diminished, he would become bed ridden with indescribable pain. His meds are $1600.00 per month, they need to be refrigerated and there is no substitute. I just pray we never have a serious situation like an EMP. The best we can do is find a doc who will prescribe the most meds he can and then I guess we have to prepare to keep the person as comfortable as possible til the end. I really can't see andy other option, Kellene do you have any ideas?
The DI (for those of us in Utah) and thrift stores are great places for finding used medical equipment. I am always finding crutches, bedside toilets, walkers, motorized wheelchairs, etc. Replacement/spare tip or arm padding are in the grocery stores.
Agave is great. With a little maple flavoring it makes great maple syrup. It is pricey ~$30 a gallon at Natural Grocers.
Alternative health preventative tip: (Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional at all.) Hydrogen peroxide in the ears at the first sign of a cold or flu (throat tingling, phelm build up, etc.) You might also want to do this as a preventative if you've been around a lot of people. Lay down and keep the peroxide in your ear until it stops bubbling. If after 5 minutes your ear is still bubbling, drain your ear by lifting and tilting your head unto a towel. Pour more peroxide in. Repeat in the same ear until all of the bubbling stops. (Once one of my ears took 1 hour before it stopped bubbling.) Repeat in the other ear. You can use an eyedropper to fill your ear. DO NOT put the eye dropper in your ear canal or squirt in it forcefully. Just let the peroxide run in your ear canal on it's own. DO NOT try this if you have a broken eardrum.
I have CIDP, basically my immune system attacked my nervous system. I have a great doctor at my VA clinic, she suggest vitamins and supplements along with my regular meds. Thank goodness my meds are cheap through the VA system. I will never be pain free but what I have is bearable. I am taking Vitamin D which is getting a lot of press of assisting in pain management. You might check the internet and see if there is a support group for his condition. They may additional info.
Debbie, I have read the book and another one on the internet called "lights out" "One Second After" is much better but they both have some useful info in them.
When I read "One Second After" the senerio of the nursing home and the one of the gangs hitting the pharmacies and hospitals seemed a realistic possibility.
I think the best thing to do might be to go see if we can get a perscription for a year in advance or for however long the medications are still active. Also see if a Dr. will give a perscription that one can keep for just such an emergency and then get to the pharmacy before all hell breaks out and get the meds you need before they are all gone. Other than that I can't think of what to do. Suggestions are welcome.
reading glasses are available at most Dollar Stores - I would be so lost without reading glasses - the ol' arms just are not long enough any more!
I was a combat lifesaver in the Army and then I come from poor country folk so learned all kinds of home remedies. Check FM 21-11 http://www.medtrng.com/Fm21_11/fm2111.htm
It's free and it has a very good 1st aid and the way to do things. Pictures and everything.
From breathing and bleeding to building your own 1st aid kit.
Stevia has no carbs or calories, which is good for diabetics, and can be bought as a plant or as seeds at, among others, Gurneys.com or Burpees.com
Gurneys tells you to harvest the leaves etc.
Jennifer.....Sorry I meant the book One Second After, Yeah I agree, the pharmacy, scenario and the hospital are truly horrifying to think it could happen. People will be desperate for their meds, and for food. In some that situation will bring out the best, but I fear that in most it will bring out the beast. All we can do is spread the word of being prepared, preparing our selves as much as we can and praying it never happens.
Great Post! I have actually thought quite a bit about this, as I have MS. I put together an extensive first aid kit, including Grapefruit Oil ;) but I did go to Costco and stocked up on Aspirin, Exedrin for Migrane, and Ibuprogfen, along with all the vites, and a lot of Vitimin D. DE is on the way. Another Thank you!
But directly for my condition I have a stock of Prednesone, a cane & ankle foot orthosis (which I have been using for a year now) a quad cane, walker and wheelchair. I also have a shower seat, a raised toilet seat, a glucose checker and strips, crutches. and lots of braces for arms, ankles, and back on hand. I am not negative but realistic that when hyper inflation hits and I on ssd can be sure there will be nothing to keep me from being mobile!
There is no such thing as overprepared :)
Woodirae # WOW Great attitude. Inspirational, funny one of my relatives has MS and we compare symptoms and what works to mitigate them. LOL
Well I could never slam dunk a basketball either. So let's move along to what I can do. What can I do to move the odds in my favor? For me that's what prepping is about. Sure there are few times I feel like banging my head against the wall. I have found all I get is a headache and I think I'm annoying the wall.
I'll tell you when I read that this may go to ALS (Lou Gherig's) I was a bit frightened. But I got my Minivan. I can get a lift. I am trying to assume the worst and hope for the best. I am doing good. Whatever God or fate has in store for me, I will to my best and meet the test.
Adapt and overcome is not just a slogan it's a way of life.
Jamie That is so right! and overcome we do! I think prepping has not only made me wake up and prioritize as a previous post stated, but in a healthy way has forced me to not think about the disease as much and just do, and learn as much as I can. (and hope it all sticks) :)
Debbie- On refrigeration you could look into a Claypot or Burlap bag Cooler or Root Cellars. Just Google those, I hear the Claypot cooler works great even in Sub-Saharan Africa. You can also make a root cellar above ground with insulating products such as Sand bags and Hay bales etc.
They are relatively cheap to make from stuff at your local store. They work on the principles of evaporation or ground temp. Also see if you have a store that supplies dry ice? I know in an emergency, Ice goes fast but Dry Ice does last a lot longer.
I have also seen some 12Volt DC fridges and they are coming down in price. You maybe able to go solar, and keep stuff cool. Heck they have those little car fridges as long as you have fuel or battery power you have a fridge.
Not a perfect solution but it could buy you some time.
I hate to say it but if society breaks down,getting the drugs and meds may depend on the black market.
Keep the faith and keep working and learning. Be positive and proactive, focus on solutions once you have defined the problem.
God always seems to give his hardest tests to the ones he loves the best. You may fail but God will not. A writer I like wrote "The test is a gift, to refuse the test is to refuse the gift."