Close X

Emergency Preparedness for Seniors, People with Disabilities, and Their Caregivers

Posted by Daniel J. Eccher, Esq. | Jul 11, 2024

Are you and your vulnerable loved ones ready for emergencies? Do you have a plan?

During unexpected events, seniors and people with disabilities are among the most at risk for injuries or worse. Limited mobility, chronic health issues, and sight or hearing impairments can reduce their reaction times. A solid action plan can protect their health and safety. 

Forming a Secure Action Plan

In an emergency, clear and regular communication keeps everyone informed.

Keep Vitals Handy: Put your medical info and emergency contacts where people can access them easily. Think about neighbors, friends, or family who can help or offer a ride. Note whom to contact first and how best to reach them (e.g., landline, cell phone, email, social media). You may place this information, together with your insurance cards and photo ID, in a waterproof bag. 
Emergency Contacts: Store In Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts in your phone and consider a medical ID bracelet. If it's available where you live, create safety profiles for Smart911 to help responders find you.
Stay Informed: Sign up for local emergency alerts. Keep devices charged and have backups ready.
Plan for Pets: If you own pets, prepare for their care in an emergency. 

Preparing Emergency Kits

Have supplies ready. Prepare two kits: a medical kit and a disaster kit. Store them in waterproof containers in easy-to-access spots.

First-aid kits should contain:

  • A first-aid guide or manual
  • A seven-day supply of prescription medications (if necessary)
  • First-aid supplies (bandages, antiseptic wipes, tape, gauze, pain relievers, etc.)
  • Personal protective equipment: disposable gloves or surgical or N-95 masks
  • Necessary medical equipment like a thermometer or a blood pressure monitor
  • Toiletries (soap, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Slippers or anti-skid socks
  • Hearing aids, dentures, eyeglasses, or other essential items

Disaster supply kits may contain:

  • Safety tools: a flashlight, a portable battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a multipurpose tool like a Leatherman; a whistle; extra batteries
  • Emergency candles
  • Cell phone or other device chargers
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food like granola bars, dried fruit, or nuts
  • Disposable napkins, cups, plates, bowls, or utensils; moist towelettes; garbage bags; a can opener
  • A three-day supply of bottled water
  • Supplies for pets or children (if applicable)
  • Local maps
  • Comfort or personal items: blankets, hand warmers, changes of clothes, personal hygiene items, books/magazines, games, puzzles

Evacuation Planning: Knowing How and When to Leave

During severe storms, follow local news and weather updates. 

If conditions worsen, you might need to go to a safer location. Plan potential safe havens or escape routes. Choose a meeting place outside the home. Some cities and towns might offer warming or charging stations. Find shelters with heat in cold weather and places with air conditioning when it's hot.

Considerations for Special Needs

If you need to move permanently or temporarily, ensure you can access essentials at your new location. When a disaster is coming, arrange for early prescription refills. Regular access to toiletries, food, and water is also crucial.

Assistive devices should be easy to move. People with medical needs or limited mobility will need access to necessary equipment. For example, someone who breathes with a ventilator could need battery backups or power via a generator. Other options are to contact your power company to be placed on a priority reconnection list or identify nearby facilities with backup power during long outages.

Light sticks or battery-operated motion-sensor lights help prevent falls in the dark. Store and charge batteries for needed devices.

To avoid problems like long lines and gas shortages, leave early.

Sharing the Responsibility of Care

Family caregivers and those they care for, if they're capable, should prepare together.

Seniors or the disabled should have emergency contacts ready and know who to call (besides 911) like their caregivers and doctors. They should also know where important legal, financial, and medical documents are kept.

Note the following:

  • Medical needs, records, allergies, medications, and dosages
  • Health insurance policy numbers
  • The senior or disabled person's daily routine
  • Favorite comfort items, like pillows, books, or blankets
  • Dietary needs and food preferences
  • Identifying marks, such as moles
  • Their passport, driver's license, or state ID
  • Login information for financial accounts
  • Contact information for the pharmacy, doctors, insurance agents, or financial or legal professionals

Sharing the Plan and Securing Important Documents

Set up an emergency fund with cash to cover three to six months of living expenses. Keep it separate from regular savings.

Ensure your family, caregivers, and medical professionals know your emergency plan. Keep your plans, emergency funds, and important documents in a secure place like a fireproof safe or cabinet. 


  • Notes about beneficiaries who have access to financial accounts
  • Estate plan documents: a durable power of attorney, advance health-care directive (or "living will"), will, and trust
  • Insurance policies: homeowners or renters, health, long-term care
  • Records of valuable items in case of insurance claims

Community Emergency Preparedness Programs

Local organizations can help during emergencies.

Before a disaster, contact local hospitals, senior centers, community centers, or The American Red Cross. They can offer information on emergency procedures and access to shelters, evacuation routes, or emergency services. 

Keep receipts for disaster-related expenses for possible reimbursement. Check if you qualify for disaster relief programs like FEMA. 

Staying Connected and Updated Before and After an Emergency

Emergencies can be stressful. If you feel overwhelmed, seek counseling or support groups. Many communities offer free help after a disaster. Keep connected with family, friends, or community networks. 

To keep prepared, review your emergency plan and supplies every three to six months. Update vital records, including insurance policies and your estate plan regularly.

For help with your estate plan, contact us online or call (207) 377-6966.

About the Author

Daniel J. Eccher, Esq.

Daniel J. Eccher, Esq. is the Managing Shareholder at Levey, Wagley, Putman & Eccher, P.A., in Winthrop, Maine. Dan's favorite problem to solve is helping clients figure out how to afford long-term care while having something left for their family.

Pay Your Invoice

Please call our office during business hours if you would like to provide a credit card number over the phone.

Areas We Serve

Our office is in Winthrop, Maine, located approximately 10 miles from Augusta, and 17 miles from Lewiston. We are also available by appointment to meet in the Brunswick/Topsham area and the Waterville area.