Emergency Readiness for People with Alzheimer's

People with Alzheimer’s disease can be especially vulnerable during disasters like severe weather, fires, floods, earthquakes, and other emergency situations.

It is important for caregivers to have a disaster plan that includes the special needs of people with Alzheimer’s, whose impairments in memory and reasoning severely limit their ability to act appropriately in crises.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends that caregivers prepare emergency kits and store them in a watertight container.

The agency recommends the following items in a kit for a person with Alzheimer’S:

It’s a good idea to plan for possible separation.

Incontinence undergarments, wipes, and lotions

Pillow, toy, or something the person can hold onto

Favorite snacks and high-nutrient drinks

Physician’s name, address, and phone number

Copies of legal, medical, insurance, and Social Security information

Waterproof bags or containers to hold medications and documents

Recent photos of the person

Warm clothing and sturdy shoes

Spare eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries


Flashlights and extra batteries

Other steps you can take so you won’t get caught by surprise:

It’s very important to stay with a person with Alzheimer’s in a disaster. Do not count on the person to stay in one place while you go to get help. It is a good idea to plan for possible separation:


Enroll the person in the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® Program—an identification and support service for people who may become lost. Click here to find out more about the program.

Prepare for wandering. Place labels in garments to aid in identification. Keep an article of the person’s clothing in a plastic bag to help dogs find him or her.

Identify specific neighbors or nearby family and friends who would be willing to help in a crisis. Make a plan of action with them should the person with Alzheimer’s be unattended during a crisis.

Tell neighbors about the person’s specific disabilities, including inability to follow complex instructions, memory loss, impaired judgment, disorientation, and confusion. Give examples of simple one-step instructions that the person may be able to follow.

Give someone you trust a house key and list of emergency phone numbers.

Provide local police and emergency services with photos of the person with Alzheimer’s and copies of his or her medical documents, so they are aware of the person’s needs.

For more about this and other subjects on aging, visit the NIA’s website here.

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