Emergency Preparedness For Seniors
Attorney Amos Goodall, president of the National Elder Law Foundation outlines a handy and vital list of things you need to have ready ahead of any unforeseen disaster or emergency, to keep you and your aging parents safe. On it: three critical things I know you would never think of.
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Parents Are Hard To Raise® S03 Episode 122 Transcript
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[00:00:37] This week on Parents Are Hard To Raise ELDER LAW EXPERT Amos Goodall president of the National Elder Law Foundation is back to discuss some changes that could immediately and severely impact the welfare of our aging parents and us. Join 180 million monthly subscribers who can now listen to Parents Are Hard To Raise on Spotify.
Diane Berardi [00:01:13] Welcome to Parents Are Hard To Raise. Helping families grow older together without losing their minds. I’m elder care expert Diane Berardi.
[00:01:22] Longtime listeners will recognize my next guest as our “go to” expert on all matters elder law. If I were to list all of his credentials there’d be no time left in the show. So let me just say he’s a certified elder law attorney practicing in Centre County, Pennsylvania with the firm Steinbacher, Goodall and Yurchak. Philadelphia Magazine named him a “super lawyer” in elder law as they have every year since the category was created. He’s a Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and currently serves as president of the National Elder Law Foundation. Attorney Amos Goodall… Welcome to Parents Are Hard To Raise.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:02:04] Thank you Diane. It’s great to be here.
[00:02:06] So Amos, what do you have for us this week?
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:02:09] Well Diane, I want to talk about emergency preparedness.
Diane Berardi [00:02:12] Okay.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:02:13] I think that’s a very important topic for seniors, really for everyone, but especially for seniors and for folks who may have some difficulty moving or other disability that hinders them.
Diane Berardi [00:02:25] Definitely.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:02:32] It’s interesting you know we read about James Bond and his “go bag” and all you know the spies that have their bags that they grab, and it’s really probably pretty important for everyone to have some sort of a place where they keep things that they will need in an emergency. And Diane, emergencies are… That’s the measure of emergency is that you can’t really predict what it is.
Diane Berardi [00:02:58] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:03:00] You know you think of sleepy little Center County Pennsylvania where nothing much happens except on football weekends. But in Pennsylvania there were an average of 16 tornadoes. There are an average of 16 tornadoes a year that touchdown somewhere in Pennsylvania. This year, 2019, in the first five months there have already been 20 touchdowns.
Diane Berardi [00:03:23] Really?
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:03:24] So I can remember sitting in my nice in my house in State College watching the evening news and seeing a report that says if you’re in such and such a township get in your basement now.
Diane Berardi [00:03:36] Wow.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:03:37] And so, as I said emergency is you can’t really predict. And it’s important that people prepare for those emergencies knowing that that particular emergency they’re not sure what… You can’t say in advance what it’s going to be.
Diane Berardi [00:03:52] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:03:54] The first thing that people need to do is they need to have some sort of an evacuation plan.
[00:03:59] And you know mom and dad may be home… Actually dad maybe out bowling or something and Mom may be doing her thing and grandfather may be at home and the children may be home or doing homework or they may be out.
[00:04:18] And if there’s an emergency there has to be an evacuation they all need to have a place that they know in advance, if we have to evacuate this is where we’re going to meet. That’s that’s the first thing that everyone should have is a plan for where you’re going to go if you have to evacuate and how you’re going to meet.
[00:04:39] And then the second thing you need to have is, you need to have someone outside the area who can sort of be a coordinator.
Diane Berardi [00:04:47] OK.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:04:48] My daughter lived in New York City on 9/11. And you can imagine how, and she actually lived within sight of the World Trade Center, you can imagine how worried her mother and I were. And with all the communications being down fortunately there was a, she had a friend who she could reach who was outside the area who then called her friends or us and her contacts and all the other contacts that she and her friends gave this person to let us all know that our loved one was all right.
[00:05:21] So you need it. You need a coordinator outside the area.
[00:05:27] And it’s those are things that everyone can do and everyone should do. But suppose you had to evacuate. What are you going to take with you?
Diane Berardi [00:05:36] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:05:38] There is an emergency service that talks about a rule of threes. And it says that we can we can survive for three minutes without air. We can survive for up to three hours in a hostile environment without shelter. We could theoretically survive three days without water and theoretically three weeks without food.
[00:06:01] Of course, who would want to?
[00:06:04] So the most people recommend that everyone keep a list of or not a list but everyone keep items that they will need for an emergency evacuation. Most agencies recommend a gallon of water per day or three gallons of water per person. Food for three days. A blanket and a pillow. A change of seasonal clothing. And then contact information including that coordinator that I talked about. That’s for each person in the family. And then they recommend that they have some other things. They have tools. A Swiss Army knife. A cell phone. Flashlights and extra batteries. A manual can opener and a weather radio.
[00:06:48] And they now make weather radios that have crank operated so that you’re not dependent on batteries or electricity and you can actually charge your cell phone with them and run a very small light. They recommend that you have cash and maybe coins. And then whatever documents you’re going to need, medical insurance form, government issued photo I.D., a living will or and a medical power of attorney. They recommend first aid supplies including prescribed medications including a list including the dosage of what those prescribed medications are.
[00:07:26] Extra keys. Moist toilets and garbage bags. Toilet items and books toys and games. That’s for each person in an average family. Think about someone who has special needs. They have their own unique requirements.
[00:07:43] For example the American Red Cross recommends seven days of medication for persons in that category.
[00:07:50] They need to be prepared for being mobile with reduced or very little assistance. They need probably food for a special needs diet. They need batteries if needed for a wheelchair or for hearing aid. They need a list of their model number and serial number for their medical devices.
[00:08:11] Any special supplies that they may need. Personal sanitary items. Any other assisted devices that they have. And they shouldn’t forget that if they have a service animal they’re going to need to have a go bag for their service animal also.
Diane Berardi [00:08:25] Right. Yeah.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:08:28] So that’s really where we start with what people need to carry with them. Now of course everyone is unique and each family may have other items that they may want to add to that list.
[00:08:45] They may have some things that they think they don’t really need. I mean games may not be something that everyone needs but certainly water they do.
Diane Berardi [00:08:53] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:08:58] I guess… Yeah. Those go bags. I guess. Yeah that is very important to keep them. Ready to go.
[00:09:07] Right. Well they need to be in a… You’re not going to carry, if you have three people in your family you’re not going to keep nine gallons of water by the back door.
Diane Berardi [00:09:16] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:09:17] But you might keep, you might if you buy water by the case you might keep a case of water by the back door and then rotate it and use that case and replace it with another one or whatever, however the family wants to think about those items that they may need in an emergency.
[00:09:39] That brings me to another point that I often make to my clients and that is, OK so you’ve only got 10 minutes to evacuate. You grab your “go bag” and you go. What if you have 20 minutes to evacuate? What are you going to do with that extra 10 minutes? And what if you have an hour to evacuate? What are you gonna do with that extra time?
[00:10:04] So what I recommend to clients to do is that not only do you have your go bag. Not only do you have your emergency things listed, but you need to remember that you’re probably not going to be thinking clearly if there’s a tornado on the way or if your neighbor’s house is on fire or whatever the emergency happens to be, you’re probably not going to be thinking clearly. But if you have some extra time there may be other things that you would want to take away with you.
[00:10:31] And so I recommend that folks take the time to prepare an inventory and they they list. OK. My marriage license and my birth certificate…I keep those in the first drawer and in the in my bedroom. Where do you keep them?
Diane Berardi [00:10:48] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:10:49] You keep a list of your important papers.
[00:10:52] What about the family photographs? Where are they located? And what are the other things that you if you’re if you’re never going to get back to your house that you want to take with you?
[00:11:00] So if you have enough time you can get that you have enough time to get the I.D. information. If you have a little bit more time maybe you can get the photographs. If you have more time maybe you can get the special jewelry that that you need to take with you. Or maybe in a particular person’s case the jewelry moves up to the second category and the photograph moved down to the third category.
Diane Berardi [00:11:26] Right. Yeah.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:11:27] If you have 10 minutes, you might only get one thing on that list. If you have 20 minutes, you might get two or three things. Especially if you put the location because if you’re under a lot of tension you may not have the. You may not remember well where did I put that.
[00:11:44] So if you’ve written down your you have you have the information and use it when you absolutely need to.
Diane Berardi [00:11:51] That makes perfect sense because you don’t think about it. But yeah. You know if in an emergency and you’re not thinking clearly, you’re thinking, I got to get out of here and where did I put that? So that makes perfect sense to make a list and put everything you know where things are, and what you would want to take in an emergency. I mean you know other than the stuff you already put in your “go bag.”
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:12:16] Those are the things that a person needs to have. There are a number of resources on the Internet that are available for folks who want to do a little bit more research.
[00:12:28] Well, we are gonna continue talking with Amos Goodall, Certified Elder Law Attorney and we’ll get those resources.
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[00:16:00] So Amos… I was thinking when you were talking about you know making a list of the things you would want to take and where they are, and I’m thinking for myself. And then I’m thinking oh my gosh, we really need to do that for our parents, because when I go my my mom and dad, just simple things that I might ask them that are important… Even medication. You know they have medication in you know a daily box. But my mom would go, Yeah go get.. Oh yeah I have to fill that. It’s in that draw in my bedroom. I go there in the bedroom and look and it’s not there. I’m like, Mom that’s not there.
[00:16:41] Oh, it’s not? Let me see… Oh, It’s in this place.
[00:16:45] So I’m thinking oh my gosh you know we really have to organize and organize our parents.
[00:16:51] Well Diane you’re right. Is this important. We’re going to help our parents. We need to be sure that they’re their affairs will be taken care of. You know in our area several of the skilled nursing facilities that have residential units have an envelope right on the refrigerator where the important medical papers are in the important of the health the health care directives and the medication lists and things like that. Those are the kinds of things we can do to help our parents, every day, is to make sure that they are organized.
Diane Berardi [00:17:29] Right. Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:17:30] And then for disasters really we’ll need to help them be a little bit more ready I think because they have a few more needs than you or I might if we’re if we’re evacuated.
[00:17:46] If someone is dependent of oxygen, for example, and their is a machine that they have at home that supplies that oxygen is gone because the electricity is gone…
Diane Berardi [00:17:57] Right.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:17:57] As their batteries wear down they need to know what they’re going to be doing.
Diane Berardi [00:18:01] Yeah exactly. Do they have an extra tank or you know anything? Do they have extra supplies?
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:18:09] And where is it located?
[00:18:10] And where is it located, exactly. Yeah. And I was thinking, if someone in an emergency situation had a shelter in place, you know stay at home, fill the bathtub with water. So they have drinking water.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:18:26] That’s so often what they recommend for sheltering in place. You’re right.
[00:18:33] And of course if you’re at home you know about things like having candles and having extra batteries and plus the things that we’ve talked about in the go bag you could use them at home.
Diane Berardi [00:18:44] Right exactly.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:18:47] So there is actually a great resource. It’s called Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors.
[00:18:56] And if you if your listeners will Google that phrase they will find a link directly to that Web site. Alternatively my Web site is: goodall.org.
[00:19:12] And there will be a link on that for my Web site so that people can get it that way too maybe it’s easy to remember just, goodall.org to get that.
[00:19:25] And there are a number of things that people can do. I mean each each person is a member of a community. What are the risks that are attended in that community?
[00:19:38] Most of Centre County where I live is probably not going to be subject to hurricanes but might be subject to flooding. Certainly subject to winter storms. Theoretically subject to tornadoes.
[00:19:52] And each of those has some unique characteristics that we may want to think about when we are when we’re planning.
[00:20:01] I mean I’m sure the folks in Paradise California weren’t planning on a sudden wildfire taking out their whole town.
Diane Berardi [00:20:09] Right. You’re right. A gas main leak due to the storm. You know we had that happen with Hurricane Sandy.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:20:16] And you know folks who live alone they have special needs. People who can or cannot drive a car that comes into consideration on how you’re planning for your emergencies.
[00:20:29] How good are your senses? How good is your sense of smell? Do you have any physical, medical or thinking or learning limitations? Has your sense of hearing or vision decreased? Are you relying, as we’ve said a few minutes ago, on particular pieces of medical equipment? Are you relying on a caregiver?
[00:20:50] All of those are things people need to take into consideration when they’re planning on how they’re going to deal with an emergency.
Diane Berardi [00:20:59] And you kind of need you know, if you’re if you’re a parent is living alone, maybe they have a buddy. They need to have a buddy system, where someone if it’s a neighbor or a friend who can come and get them get them out of the house or you know make sure they’re okay. So definitely that needs to be planned as well.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:21:19] Sure. And that’s in line with taking into account for mobility considerations.
[00:21:27] And the idea is that this should be done in advance. It’s not like you get a call that there’s a hurricane about to touch down in your parents town and you’re calling around trying to find somebody who you could whom you could send over to take them out of the house.
Diane Berardi [00:21:44] And you know a lot of times in these retirement villages… I remember being with a client and fire trucks were coming, we were in a senior citizen development and there was just house upon house. And the house next door was on fire. You know these are things you’re not even thinking about, and they can happen at any time. And so they started evacuating all the other houses. So there’s a lot of possibility of things to happen.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:22:16] There is. And I don’t think we should dwell on it. I just think we should plan for it.
Diane Berardi [00:22:21] Yeah exactly.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:22:23] If someone has to leave. They’ve gotten their stuff their things together. They can take it with them. Even if they don’t have to leave if they know that they’ve organized it they’ve got a list of where the things are they want to take if they have time. I think that they’ll feel more comfortable even without an emergency.
Diane Berardi [00:22:46] Sure. Exactly.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:22:51] I’d like to go over, if you don’t mind I’d like to go over that list again. I think it’s so important that people think about these items and you don’t always.
[00:23:01] I didn’t until I was doing research for this, think about all the things that I would need to put in my own personal and go bag.
[00:23:09] But of course food and water for three days. A blanket and a pillow. Seasonal clothing, at least one change in clothing. And then the contact information. And I stress that it’s important to have an out of area person to contact so that that person that they can coordinate family members who may not be who may not be home or who may in central place.
[00:23:34] Everyone needs to have some tools. A Swiss Army knife, a cell phone and flashlights. Batteries and some way to a weather radio. They need cash. If there’s a if there’s a disaster the money access machines may not be working.
[00:23:54] They need their documents. They need their medical insurance card they need their government issued I.D.. If they have things like birth certificates and marriage licenses, those are important.
[00:24:06] We’re going through in Pennsylvania where people are registering for a real I.D. and the National security purposes.
[00:24:19] And the number of people who were sent away from the driver’s license office who said you have to go and figure out where your original marriage license is or a Certified Copy.
Diane Berardi [00:24:29] Yeah.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:24:31] If you have if you have the time to put those things in a central place and know where they are and be able to tell other people where they are you’re going to be so far ahead then maybe being evacuated and then trying to prove who you are and who you’re what you’re entitled to.
Diane Berardi [00:24:48] And you know people it happened to me you get married in a church so you think that that’s OK but that is not your marriage license.
[00:24:56] You know that doesn’t prove anything.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:24:59] Right.
Diane Berardi [00:24:59] I remember that happened to me trying to get my driver’s license renewed.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:25:04] Well, I was at the Centre County Department of Motor Vehicle Bureau and there was a steady stream of people leaving with grumpy looks on their face going to the courthouse to try to get a copy, to try to get some sort of official Marriage or the Register of Wills to get some sort of official marital certification. But that’s just one example. A Medicaid card. A Medicare supplement insurance card or whatever insurance they have. Their Social Security card. Driver’s license or their whatever photo I.D. they have. A passport.
[00:25:42] First aid supplies including a list of prescriptions. Extra keys. Moist towels. Toilet articles. All those things that need to be with you need to be available in case you have to evacuate.
Diane Berardi [00:26:02] Now what about. If we take photos of these important papers and keep them on your phone? Are the photos considered legal documents?
[00:26:13] That they are not necessarily considered legal documents. But they’ve at least got the information on them that you need. For example, when we travel we keep a copy of our passport on our telephone.
Diane Berardi [00:26:26] OK.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:26:27] That won’t get me through customs if I come back. But if I’m in the embassy and wherever country I am where I lost my passport or where it was stolen that’s got the information they need to start the process to issuing me a new passport.
Diane Berardi [00:26:44] Right. So it’s a good idea to do that.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:26:48] It’s absolutely a good idea. And there are services that will secure that on your phone so everyone can see it just because it’s there.
Diane Berardi [00:26:55] Ah. Perfect.
[00:26:58] And Amos… Give us your Web site again.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:27:01] The Web site is goodall.org
Diane Berardi [00:27:09] And this way. That’s that’s wonderful. People can check out your Web site and get those resources from you.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:27:16] Yes. That’s what it is. It’ll be there. Yes.
Diane Berardi [00:27:20] Thank you so much Amos for being here today.
Amos Goodall, Esq. [00:27:22] Thank you Diane. And I hope your listeners can benefit a little bit from this information.
Diane Berardi [00:27:28] I’m sure they can. Parents Are Hard To Raise family we love getting your e-mails and questions so please keep sending them. You can reach me at Diane at Parents Are Hard To Raise dot org. Or just click the green button on our home page.
[00:27:41] Parents Are Hard To Raise is a CounterThink Media production. The music used in this broadcast was managed by Cosmo Music, New York, New York. Our New York producer is Joshua Green. Our broadcast engineer is Well Gambino. And from our London studios the melodic voice of our announcer, Miss Dolly D.
[00:27:58] Thank you so much for listening. Till next time…
[00:28:01] May you forget everything you don’t want to remember and remember everything you don’t want to forget.
[00:28:07] See you again next week!
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