Supporting Persons with Dementia During Major Weather Events

Vicky Pitner   -  

Most major weather events allow some time to prepare. Tornado preparation time may be short, but the urgent reports from the TV reporters can cause stress for someone with dementia, but also for the family members providing the support.

News, in general, on the television can be concerning to someone experiencing confusion. Persons living with dementia see footage about a wildfire across the country, but think in is their daughter’s back yard.

But as hurricane season is in full swing in Florida, on-going news reports begin days before the expected event. The constant updates, announcing the increasing strength of the storm, and the warnings to evacuate, can cause tremendous stress and anxiety for the whole family.

Being proactive and prepared before the potential impact is essential for helping your loved one feel safe and lessens the anxiety before and during the storm. If evacuation seems inevitable, gather small familiar items that bring comfort to your loved one such as family photos, mobile devices that play music, or an activity box with fidget or sensory items.

Know your evacuation route and your destination. Special needs shelters are available if needed and may be a necessary option. Pack blankets, medications, non-perishable food, medical equipment, clothes, insurance information, and emergency contacts. Check your area for a local Special Needs shelter just in case.

Maintaining your loved-one’s routine as much as possible can help relieve any anxiety. Stay updated on any changes in weather without alerting your loved-one. Keeping your emotions regulated and not showing your anxiety may be difficult, but your loved-one is well aware of your feelings and they will pick up on your distress.

Practical and thoughtful planning is always key during a major weather event for your entire family. Creating a family and friends text can be helpful in keeping your family informed of your whereabouts and safety.

“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily asses the situation and see the options” -Simon Sinek

Stay safe as we hunker down and weather the storm!

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