In a natural disaster, how do you care for dementia patients?
For the past five days, Cyclone Gabrielle has gripped Aotearoa-New Zealand, laying waste to much of the North Island. Smashing homes. Ruining crops. Cutting off communities. Cutting communications and power and bridges to many areas. Rivers and tides have risen with dramatic speed. Sodden land has slipped away, knocking down houses on its way. Damaging roads all over the island. (As a non-engineer, I just can’t see how some of those roads can ever be rebuilt.)
- Images of Cyclone Gabrielle damage
- Live updates on Cyclone Gabrielle: death, destruction and evacuations
Managing frail elderly patients with dementia in a disaster
Imagine yourself working in a rest home where some residents have dementia, when the police knock on your door with an order to evacuate. For a hint of just how stressful this was for staff and residents, listen to the interview from the following link. Despite difficulties, the situation was resolved smoothly.
Listen: did anyone hear the word “climate”?
Answer: yes. Finally I’m hearing the word “climate” associated with the word “weather.” This severe weather event has finally convinced a lot of people that the climate crisis is real. Here’s what Marama Davis, co-leader of the Green Party Aotearoa-New Zealand, said today. “The best time to tackle climate change was thirty years ago. And the second best time is now.”
Why dementia patients need extra care in a disaster
In his interview, Greg Pritchard describes how important it was to keep the rest home residents apart from other evacuees. The carers needed to limit the abnormality of a thoroughly abnormal situation. Having dementia patients mix with outsiders, for example, would disturb both groups.
But managing a group of frail elderly people in a crisis is an extremely demanding task.
Complex task of caring for dementia patients in a disaster
- Natural disasters and people living with dementia by Dr Meredith Gresham, Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA)
- Disaster and emergency preparation. Alzheimers Canada.
Here in Wellington we were barely touched by Gabrielle. A bit of wet windy weather, nothing worse. We were lucky. I’ve been impressed the quality and speed of official responses. Government bodies and local councils seemed well prepared for this disaster. We are so grateful for the courageous help of many many organisations, community groups, and individuals. Among those, the staff of Bryant House as they managed the evacuation and return of 22 elderly patients when floodwaters threatened their safety.Follow Write Into Life