Over 46 million American adults are presently caring for an elderly relative or friend. The majority of these instances actually involve the elderly living in their home with them, while the rest represent adults taking care of “Aunt Ruthie” in her own residence. In the event of a long-term survival scenario, the elderly are typically the most vulnerable, even with all of the advances in technology, and in some instances, because of modern-day technology. Given these vulnerabilities, considering their needs now, in a time of comfort, can provide a great deal of relief and care—even in a time of chaos.
Here are some general supplies I recommend to have on hand in order to make the elderly persons in your life more comfortable. Fortunately, most of these items can be used in a myriad of other scenarios, so you don’t have to feel like you’re exhausting precious money and space for a narrow segment of preparedness.
Checklist of Elderly Care Items
Crutches or a walker, as well as tips and padding- I recently saw some walkers on sale at a national pharmacy for $70. Not bad, perhaps. But then I came home and found both crutches and walkers on Craigslist for less than $10 each. Having some duct tape and foam padding on hand will also be helpful in making these tools fit the needs of most body types.
Reading Glasses- Given the wide availability of reading glasses- even at the gas stations—it may be easy to take this valuable asset for granted. Having your vision impaired is not only dehumanizing, it can also present a compromised security. This is yet another item that you should be on the look-out for on E-bay, garage sales, and Craigslist.
Denture Care Items- I get teased a bit whenever I teach my coupon classes because I have a section in my coupon notebook specifically for denture care. Not only is the denture adhesive good for the obvious, but it is also helpful with a broken or loose tooth.
Baby Wipes- Staying clean and feeling “human” is critical for all of us. But it’s a bit more challenging for those who aren’t physically mobile. Baby wipes will come in handy instead of having to provide a full bathtub of precious water.
Wheelchair- While there are countless electronic wheelchairs in use presently, the likelihood of them remaining operable after any type of a crisis is rare. As such, I’ve keep my eyes peeled for the good old fashioned wheel chairs that folks are getting rid of for the newer models. This way I don’t have to worry about batteries and I have a minimal amount of moving pieces to repair.
Warm Clothing/Blankets- Generally the elderly have poor blood circulation which causes them to be cold easily. So be sure you have on hand some easy, warm throw blankets. Also consider having some sweaters or shawls available, too.
Bed Pan and Shower Curtains- I confess. I have one of the most squeamish stomachs. My heart may desire to be a doctor or a nurse, but my stomach simply won’t let me. (Which is why I try to focus more on essential oils and herb uses so that I don’t have to deal with the “blood” aspect of health care.) Having said that though, not having a bed pan grosses me out a heck of a lot more than having to use one. Along those same lines, I would recommend lining your bedding that's used for the ailing with a plastic shower curtain. They are a heck of a lot cheaper than the plastic bed sheets and yet they are just as effective. They will also come in handy in maintaining privacy in other areas of your home, or can even be used in an outdoor shower setting.
Gloves- Whether they be latex or non, be sure that you have plenty of disposable gloves to protect you and the rest of your family from illness and bacteria spreading. One thing that there’s plenty of in caring for the elderly is body fluids. So be prepared to protect yourself and your patient from spreading deadly germs.
Liquid Nutrition and Straws- When folks are ill, taking food in is a definite challenge. I cared for a cancer patient in her home for about six months and she didn’t even have the strength to lift up a spoon for soup. She also found that having to chew her food was much too arduous. So I had to resort to creating liquid nutrition concoctions for her, holding the glass to her mouth so she could use a straw. The liquid nutrition can be something as simple as stocking up on Ensure or making your own electrolyte drinks. You can also blend sprouts with milk or water and a little bit of extract for taste and have them consume that. I also stock up on a whole food powdered greens drink. Just a teaspoon of that in 8 ounces of water can provide a great deal of necessary nutrition and is easy on the stomach. I like the Vitamineral Green brand which is sold by GreenSmoothieGirl for the best price I can find on it. It tastes like a fresh salad in my mouth. I rely on this solution not only to provide patients with access to nutrition, but also to supplement my own eating habits as well. By the way, you’ll want to make sure that your straws are flexible (as opposed to straight) for the ease of your patient.
While you won’t be able to store months and months of the typical medications needed by the elderly i.e. heart, blood pressure, diabetes, and pain medications, you will be able to care for them and offer them comfort in a times of great stress and chaos. That means peace to me. I couldn’t think of a better medicine.
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