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Published December 12th, 2018
Planning is key for seniors in emergencies
Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, is a Licensed Family Therapist and Certified Care Manager. She has been practicing professional care management since 1984. Linda founded Eldercare Services, a full-service care management and home care company in 1989, which now employs over 200 caring people. Eldercare Services has been providing Bay Area families with care management, home care services (caregiving), advocacy, counseling, support groups and education for 29 years.

We in the San Francisco Bay Area have recently experienced one of the worst air quality periods in our history, brought about by the raging fires in Paradise and the surrounding area. Many of us have had some eye or respiratory issues directly relating to the devastation of homes and lives in this Northern California community.
It was disheartening to hear on public radio that the expectation of those who have not been accounted for and who have lost their lives in this tragedy will end up being mostly the old, frail and disabled. It is hard for most of us to imagine the terror and fear the community experienced when this fire exploded and engulfed this small quaint town. Our hearts go out to all who have experienced loss.
What could have been done differently, if anything, in Paradise? What can we do for ourselves to be ready for emergencies? Even more important, what can we do for our older or disabled family members to ensure that they can evacuate if necessary and have the supplies and support needed for a similar or a different kind of emergency?
Make sure to have an emergency supply for three days and flashlights (both good ideas for holiday gifts). Professional care managers can do home checks and assist in getting those items in the home (one of many reasons to have a care manager serving you). Most pharmacies will also provide you with a seven-day package of your medications for this emergency kit. There is a fee for service and is usually outside your prescription drug coverage - but worth the cost. Be sure to check it every time there is a change in medications.
Having face masks with an N95 or better rating in our emergency kits is a good idea, too. We should all be changing our furnace filters and running the fans on our heating system during smoky times.
Besides an emergency kit and flashlights, shoes with soles (not soft slippers) should be under the bed for emergencies that require evacuation at night. A whistle on your bedside table is another good idea.
Cell phones should be charged daily; a solar radio with a hand crank feature that includes a USB plug for charging cell phones is another good idea and something that would be a great gift.
If your older family members live alone, or if one of them is a caregiver to another, an "Emergency Response System" (the pendant or bracelet that you push when you need 911 help) is always a good idea - and also a great holiday gift. The cost is about $40 a month and perfect for the person for whom you can't find gifts.
Stay informed. Register your family member for emergency alerts in the county in which he or she resides. During an emergency your family member will be alerted to the situation (if all the necessary contact numbers are available). The registration link in Contra Costa is cwsalerts.com.
We tend to believe that earthquakes are the biggest emergency that we need to prepare for, but with the fires in Santa Rosa and Napa last year and now in Redding, Paradise and Malibu, we could be at risk for a fire storm as well. It happened to us in 1991 when the Oakland fire destroyed 3,000 homes.
Along with exercise, good diets and socialization, aging well is also aging safely - so remember to plan for the emergencies!
A professional care manager can assist you with a "Comprehensive Aging Life Care Plan" that will cover emergency planning and be a partner in your journey. Stay independent and have life your way.

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