By Matthew Solomon
While most of the country works to stay safe during record breaking heat waves, Florida residents have begun to prepare for a different summer experience. Officially beginning in the month of June, summer in Florida is synonymous with hurricane season and as we all know it is never too early to start preparing. But what about our community seniors? How can we help our elderly population prepare for yet another hurricane season?
Communication is the best tool for helping our seniors according to Jay Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of Aviva – A Campus for Senior Life. The team at Aviva has over 25 years of experience working with seniors during this difficult time and have garnered a great deal of attention for the incredible handling of Hurricane Irma last year. When Hurricane Irma began to approach Sarasota, Jay opened the doors of Aviva to any member of the community who needed shelter, including families of residents, staff, and the many seniors in Sarasota who live alone. In the span of a few short hours the campus population nearly doubled going from roughly 300 residents and staff to well over 600 including evacuated residents from nearby Plymouth Harbor.
According to Solomon, the biggest mistake both seniors and their families make is a lack of open communication and advanced planning. Every senior, especially those who may live alone, needs to have a hurricane plan in place and the Aviva team encourages the plan to be printed, laminated, and kept in an easily accessible place. A hurricane plan for seniors should include information on the following:
• Emergency Contacts including Primary Care Physician and Power of Attorney
• Full-list of medications and medical conditions
• A detailed evacuation or shelter strategy including possible evacuation sites
• A complete list of local family or caregivers
“We have seen terrible scenarios play out across the state each and every year regarding Florida’s seniors during hurricane season. Hurricanes are incredibly dangerous storms and a few minutes could mean the difference between life and death. For that reason, we implore members of our community to talk with their elderly relatives, neighbors, and loved ones now to create a hurricane plan for them. If you are concerned that they will be in danger on their own, please contact a local senior living campus like Aviva to make shelter arrangements or a senior advocacy group. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to wait to make plans until a storm is imminent”
Solomon and his team are actively working on their own hurricane preparedness strategy for the 27-acre senior living campus which includes residents in Kobernick Independent Living, Anchin Assisted Living & Memory Care, and Benderson Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation. The team is working to ensure that their emergency generators are in optimal condition after being one of the few locations in Sarasota to hold onto power through Hurricane Irma, creating care plans for residents on oxygen or dialysis, and checking the integrity of the campus’s windows and doors.
To prepare your own home for hurricane season residents are encouraged to do a complete check of the integrity of windows, doors, and roofs. Additionally, residents are encouraged to spend some time walking their properties and identifying any trees which may be loose or which have roots very close to the surface as these are the most likely to be blown over in a storm. In addition to the standard bottled water, flashlights, canned food, and medical supplies which are encouraged to be purchased for an emergency kit, experts like Solomon suggest additional items such as a lighter or matches, over the counter pain medication such as Ibuprofen, rubbing alcohol, a set of dry clothing placed in a plastic bag, and extra supplies for pets including leashes or harnesses. Experts suggest keeping your emergency kit in a centralized location such as a hall closet and to avoid keeping it in areas prone to flooding such as a garage.
“Our job as caretakers is to never scare or traumatize anyone with our warnings. However, failing to prepare for something like a hurricane is a mistake no one can afford to make. The Aviva team and I encourage everyone to have open conversations about these storms and encourage seniors in our community to ask for help. Always remember that there are people here in Sarasota who care about your well-being and want to provide you with a safe place to weather any storm.”
1951 N. Honore Ave. | Sarasota, FL 34235
941.225.8369 | AvivaSeniorLife.org