Accidents can and do happen even if you have taken measures towards preventing them, but having the necessary materials on hand greatly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Because many senior citizens tend to live on their own, and are also more susceptible to injuries like fractures or health scares like strokes or a sudden drop in blood pressure, it is all the more important that they have a well-stocked home emergency kit that is easily accessible during the panic that ensues after an emergency.
Following is a list of ten things you should stock in a senior’s home emergency kit, and although this list is by no means comprehensive, it does cover the essentials.
1. Central file with emergency contacts and medical information
It is extremely important to have a file on hand that caregivers or health care workers can access quickly during an emergency. The file should contain contact information for a senior’s doctor, pharmacy, insurance company and emergency contact person.
Other important information, such as allergies, power of attorney, and a list of all medications they are taking including the dosages and times should be included.
2. Blood pressure monitor, glucometer and/or AED
An AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) is pricey, but it could save your loved one’s life, as most sudden cardiac arrests lead to death if not treated within minutes. Make sure regular caregivers have adequate training in the usage of an AED.
3. Basic first aid materials
Of course, the emergency kit should contain all the basic first aid materials that a regular one would, such as adhesive bandages, disinfectant, gauze, scissors, alcohol wipes, tweezers, cotton balls and swabs, safety pins and gloves.
Medication is also important in an emergency. This can include things like fever reducer, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, and antibiotics (if you can get them). Pain reliever is also a welcome addition, as sprains, bumps and bruises can be extremely painful even if they aren’t life-threatening.
5. Battery powered flashlight
If there is a blackout or the senior is unable to reach the light switches due to an injury, a flashlight can be extremely useful finding the necessary emergency supplies and medications.
6. Cell phone with external battery pack
Along with a regular cell phone, it is a good idea to include a simple emergency cell phone in the kit, in case a senior is unable to get to their other cell phone. This should be stored along with an external battery pack or a car charger.
7. Cold compress
Simple sprains and bruises caused by falls can be eased immediately with a cold compress, and can prevent excess swelling later on. Chemical type compresses can be stored with an emergency kit and are easy to dispose of and replace.
Although most homes will have blankets, it helps to have everything in one place during an emergency. If a senior goes into shock after a fall or scare, it will be necessary to keep them warm and calm until emergency services arrive, and an emergency thermal blanket can easily be stored along with the other supplies.
9. Magnifying glass
Seniors often have trouble reading the small lettering on medications and other important emergency supplies, and including a magnifying glass can make it easier for them to make out the directions or ingredients on packaging, even in poor lighting.
10. Antibiotic ointment and burn gel
When water and soap is not immediately available, antibiotic ointment can clean out a wound and prevent infection. It should, however, not be used on burns, so a good burn gel is also useful to include.