Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Handle Power Outages with Dementia Patients

Last week’s major power outage gave our Glenner Alzheimer Family Centers an opportunity to test their emergency management systems. We asked each of our center managers what they did and what advice they might have for caregivers of dementia patients should they find themselves without any electricity for an extended period of time.

Dawn DeStefani, Center Manager for our Chula Vista Center:

What We Did: Since we practice emergency drills once per month, the staff felt very prepared when the power went out. We do have emergency procedures and a disaster plan that we follow. We ensured that the building was safe and contacted our landlord and security. Our staff did a great job resuming activities and the participants didn’t seem to notice that there was a power outage.

What We Advise: The best thing to do is to remain calm and continue to keep the routine as normal as possible. It is very important to have emergency supplies available, in your car and in your home. This event has reminded us of how important it is to have basics like water, shelf stable food, flashlights, batteries, a radio and gas in your car!

When It’s Unusually Hot: The best thing to do is to find a cool, shady place, if possible. It is also vital to stay hydrated with plenty of water. As long as the water is safe, moist towels can provide comfort to the head and neck.

Sheila Meyer, Center Manager for our Encinitas Center:

What We Did: Our staff did exactly what they should do: put flashlights into use, moved to naturally lighted rooms and remain calm and cheerful. We just continued with the activities that were already in place, a word search.

Most of our participants were raised in an age where TV, computers, and cell phones didn't exist. Radios were listened to in the evening as entertainment. Word search games, balloon toss games, and just plain conversation got us through the end of the day, plus serving plenty of water. In fact, it was kind of fun talking to the participants about the 'good old days' and bringing up old words like 'icebox' 'divan' 'davenport' and 'water closet.'

What We Advise: Remain calm and cheerful. Have a flashlight always ready to go and, if possible, a radio that runs on batteries.

What If It’s Unusually Hot: Stay indoors, wear loose clothing, drink lots of water but cut back on the iced tea/ iced coffee. Those can cause you to lose water.

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