The American Red Cross recommends that all seniors have an emergency plan in place and a support network of several loved ones who will check in with you regularly. If you don’t already have a close, trusted network of loved ones, it’s not too late to form one now. First, choose three or more people who you trust with your private information. Then, with this special group of people, discuss the following five ways you can all be more prepared in the event of an emergency.
1. Make Check-In Arrangements
Before there is ever an emergency, discuss what you and your support network will do when there really is one. If you need to be checked on daily no matter what, your support network needs to know that information. Agree on the best way to contact each other, be it a phone call, a text message, or a quick stop by your house. Consider having some type of medical alert device in your home that sends calls out to emergency personnel and your loved ones when you activate it. Plan for natural disasters as well. Phones may not be accessible in some situations, so your network should know to check in on you, should an emergency of that type ever occur.
2. Keep Important Documents and Supplies in a Safe Place
If possible, share copies of all of your important paperwork with your network of loved ones. Some items you may want to consider sharing are: medication lists, health care cards, personal identification like a driver’s license or other photo i.d., and an emergency action plan. If you cannot get copies directly to those people, keep copies in a safe place like a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box. Let your network know where those documents are and how to access them.
3. Exchange Keys and Codes
Make sure all of the people in your trusted network have copies of keys to your house or know where they can access them quickly and easily. Remember to give them any codes your house may have as well. Do you have a punch code to your garage? Does your fence have a coded lock on it? Where is the key to your safety deposit box? Do you have an important safe at home that has a key or code? Having copies of your keys and codes could help loved ones and first responders reach you as fast as possible, should it ever be necessary.
4. Notify Each Other About Travel
If you are going to be traveling anytime soon, let your network know when, where, and how long you will be gone. It’s important that your loved ones know where you are and when you’re going to be gone. If they try to check in with you at your home and you’re gone without word, they may misinterpret the events as an emergency situation. While you’re out of town traveling, your support network can check in on your home, and they can still check in with you via phone as well.
5. Help As a Group
Remember that everyone in the network is participating in this relationship, so don’t let one or a few people do all of the work. While your network is busy checking in on you, you can make sure you take care of some of the group’s needs as well. Gather together copies of your paperwork and organize them for the rest of your network. If you are mobile and can drive, consider going to make copies of your keys for everyone. If you want, occasionally plan a special lunches or other types of fun outings for each member of your network to thank them for all that they do for you.