Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Home Care During Natural Disasters

Hurricane Sandy affected many of us in Cleveland and left quite a bit of Cuyahoga County without power. Mom and Dad have been without power for three days and the city estimates that most people will not regain power for another three. Being without power is difficult for everyone, but I did not realize what it would be like for someone who is ill and homebound.

If my husband and I did not have electricity, we could go stay with friends, or go to the church to warm up, recharge our phones, and even use a microwave. But Mom can not move and we can't just take her to the church or even easily bring her over to stay at our house, where we do have power. When we bought our house, we specifically looked for a house with a bedroom on the first floor so Mom and Dad could stay here if they ever needed to. However, to get Mom here now would mean getting the Broda chair, all of her adult diapers, wipes, bed pads, other supplies, and the Hoyer lift into the house. Not an easy thing to do and quite stressful on Mom. Hospice offered to take Mom to stay in a nursing home until the power came back on but that would be so traumatic for her that we decided not to do it. When I was working as a chaplain in home health care, we would take people for respite care for five days to nursing homes so the family can have a break. However, it was such an ordeal to get the person ready to go, then they rarely ever adjusted well to the move, and their care was not adequate often resulting in missed medication, illness, and bed sores. We just could not put Mom through that if we do not have to.

Mom's makeshift bed near the fireplace.

In order to make Mom as comfortable and safe as we can, we moved Mom, the lift, and even the mattress into the family room where there is a fireplace so she can stay warm. We actually had to put the mattress on top of the couch and coffee table (don't worry, it is the strongest coffee table ever) and we set up chairs around the bed at night for guard rails. Mom's wonderful caregiver Ana has been there every day and knows how to make great food out of what is available in the pantry. I am able to wash any laundry at my house and we can bring them food they might need. We are just lucky Mom is not hooked up to any electrical equipment.

If this goes on for too many more days, we can move all of Mom and Dad's things to our house, but really any move would be very stressful to her. We also have the option for her to stay at Westlake Village since they have opened up rooms at reduced rates for people in need. We know she would get great care there.

It has amazed me how so many people have been offering their homes, food, and resources to others in the community without power. Our church has been open for people to warm up and recharge and invited families in tonight to play games and watch movies. There are SO many people willing to help right now, but I never realized that when someone is homebound it is not so easy to help them in a situation like this.

If your loved one is in a home hospice or home health situation, please know that you do have options if there are places that are open in your area. If your loved one is in hospice, your hospice provider should have called you and offered a care facility placement for them. Many local retirement communities and skilled nursing facilities will provide reduced rates for them to stay there until the power comes back on. You can also contact the Red Cross and local food pantries if you need food and Meals on Wheels can also bring you hot meals.

Stay safe everyone!


Rev. Katie
Headlamps come in handy during a power outage.


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