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Americans observe National Senior Citizens Day on August 21 of each year. The day is devoted to honoring seniors who have made positive contributions to their families, workplaces, and communities. It is also intended to raise awareness of the economic, health, and social issues affecting the country’s senior citizens.

Senior citizens often need special attention due to their age-related needs. This is particularly true when disasters strike, both natural and man-made. The events can range from those that affect the family, such as medical emergencies or house fires, to those that compromise the community at large, such as hurricanes or earthquakes.

In any emergency or disaster, a family must have an evacuation plan in place. Family members should plan an escape route out of the house and designate a place to meet up later. Because not all family members may be home when a calamity strikes, families must establish a communication plan.

Families should make emergency kits and keep them accessible. Special attention should be given to preparing the kits of aging household members. Their kits should contain their medications and health supplies. Many seniors have mobility problems, so it is important for the family members to prepare a way to evacuate them. If they are using a motorized wheelchair, a manual wheelchair should be available as a backup because there will be no way to charge the chair’s batteries if the power goes out.

If aging family members are receiving assistance from a healthcare agency, find out from the caregivers if they need special accommodations in emergencies. Designate an alternate health care provider who will be accessible if needed. One or more family members should learn the basic procedures for caring for their elderly loved one, including how to administer their medications.

If seniors are vision or hearing impaired, keep an extra cane on hand. It’s also a good idea to keep spare batteries for hearing aids.

Clutter and debris in the wake of a catastrophe could pose risks to everyone, especially seniors. They could trip or fall, leading to broken or dislocated bones. The area should be cleared and cleaned immediately after an emergency. If you are a resident of Morgan County, call a Morgan disaster clean up specialist or any other Utah disaster clean up group to help you restore order and safety in the wake of catastrophes.