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There are plenty of people out there with disabilities. This can make it challenging to prep or be more prepared. I try to make sure to mention and include some things to help those that have problems with mobility, chronic illness, etc in my posts. I think prepping with disabilities deserves a full article and more.
For those that don’t already know from my other posts, my father is a Vietnam Veteran that saw heavy combat. A lot of his issues developed when he was older. He has diabetes and skin issues that have been attributed to Agent Orange exposure. These conditions have led to his loss of vision to the point he is legally blind and he has a leg that is amputated right below the knee and uses a prosthetic and walker.
He lives alone but we are right up the road and can be to him within 5 minutes. There are plenty of those that are disabled that are unfortunately largely on their own when it comes to most anything. An occasional home health worker is not a plan for having help on hand. All of his health issues have made me think a lot about the challenges of being prepared if you suffer from a chronic condition or are just elderly and not getting around as well as you used to.
On the other side of this is the caregiver. If you are reading this you may be the caregiver and be looking for ways to be caring and compassionate as well as helping the disabled loved one in your life be more prepared. For you, I have tried to include some insight using my experience of caring for older people. I am 35 years old which some see as a sign that I probably don’t know much about this. Well, I happened to be the youngest of my generation and as a result, I have parents and grandparents that are older. My grandmother was born in a log cabin with no birth certificate. My husband and I took care of her after my father was unable. She was in her 90s when she had to go to care. It was out of my hands at that point. I really wanted to keep her at home but other family and the doctors insisted that she go. I learned a lot from this about being sensitive to the needs of those that are in need of care. Let’s start off with some tips for approaching care in a compassionate manner.
No one wants to feel helpless and it can be very embarrassing for many that have always been independent.
I remember my grandmother saying repeatedly that “shame someone having to do this”. It seemed there was little I could do to stop this feeling. I told her that this is what people did for their kin, for their parents and grandparents. She had no reason to feel bad for me helping her. I told her it was the right thing to do and that she should never feel that way.
Since she had dementia what I said was not remembered and the cycle would start again. Even if someone is of sound mind, they can feel very bad about getting help. This is particularly true of people that are used to doing basically everything. My grandma came of age during the Great Depression. She was mopping her own floor until 90!
As a caregiver, you need to reiterate that you are doing this out of love and that is what people do!
If you are the person someone is trying to care for then try to understand that there is no shame. Everyone gets older if they are lucky and us fragile human beings all have our share of health woes and troubles. One day those taking care of you will need help too. Feel good in the knowledge that there are people that love and care for you. Even if they seem a little pushy at times try to exercise some patience since most of the time they are trying to look out for you the best way they can.
My Dad took care of me when my own mother would not. Taking care of him is the right choice no matter what or how hard it gets! This is me and him in 1983 in Forks, Washington.
Caregivers That Have Ill Intent Exist But Are Not As Common As Those That Care
While I think that the vast majority of caregivers really do have the best of intentions, there are some that do not. Elder abuse is a real thing and something to watch out for. There are those that definitely want to exploit those that are caring for someone. If you feel that you are being exploited there is help out there. No one deserves to be taken advantage of due to age or disability! Here is a link to a listing of elder abuse hotlines by state. You can also reach out to your local social services office or church.
Caregivers should be aware of strife within families
Someone bearing a grudge can cause a lot of trouble. On talking with some of the social workers in my area I learned that false calls are very common. All someone has to do that is irritated is pick up the phone and call. Social services have to look into it on some level.
It sure is a shame that people make false reports because it ties up resources that could be used actually helping those that need it.
It is unfortunate but sometimes families are not agreed on the best way to care for older or disabled persons and they lash out. If this happens to be calm and go the extra mile to provide info that is required. It actually takes a lot of evidence and extreme circumstances for the state to take over the care and management of someone entirely.
It can be very scary for an older or disabled person if they think that a lie might land them in a rest home or facility against their will. Luckily this is only done in cases where there is simply no way for them to have the care they need at home. Know your rights and get a good lawyer if needed. Some organizations will even help with legal advice for families in need.
Tips For General Preparedness
Now that we have covered some of the compassion and understanding, let’s move on to actually getting together gear and supplies to make it easier for a disabled person to get through a major situation until help arrives or the situation is totally resolved.
I know I go on and on about the importance of light in an emergency but it really is that important! Falls and stumbles can lead from living an independent lifestyle to having to live in a home where care is provided. On the other hand, I have heard of those that are disabled laying in bed after a power outage or other event because they are afraid to move around without light. This can lead to issues like dehydration, not taking medications on time, and worse!
A good lantern/flashlight should be placed where it can be reached immediately in a situation. A nightstand is good for this. You may want to have two there in case you happen to use one and forget to put it back. If you are a caregiver you should sometimes check to make sure that a battery powered light is near all areas that your loved one frequents. A light in the bathroom is essential! Put a touch light or anything that you can think of in this area to avoid falls and make sure that there is access to water and bathroom facilities during an emergency.
BDS Posts About Lights
I know hand cranked can be problematic for certain types of disabilities, but some of these lights have several power methods.
Pre-installed battery back up lighting
There are plenty of buildings that have lights that come on automatically during an outage. I see no reason you could not create a system like this for yourself. This is a good idea for those that sometimes have to go away and want to be absolutely sure that decent lighting is available in the event of a situation.
Some smoke detectors have built-in escape lights that come on during an outage. Replacing a few pre-existing wired in detectors can be an economical option.
Easy to prepare foods are essential. Foods that can be eaten out of the box or that just require brief heating are ideal. I recommend a mixture of both so that everything is covered regardless of the situation.
I recommend Valley Food Storage. The quality is exceptional, the prices are as low or lower than a lot of foods at the store and eating out, and they offer options for those on restricted diets. It is really easy to find things that are gluten free, dairy free, etc. and the shelf life is 25 years! A bucket or two of their food goes a long way and at most, you need some water and a method to heat. In a major situation, tepid water could be used to rehydrate and you could eat without heating if necessary.
Water and Water Filter Bottle Or Pitcher
I recommend keeping some bottled water within reaching a distance of your bed or setting areas if disabled. Dehydration is super serious! A case of bottled water can make all the difference. A water filter bottle or pitcher is also recommended. I could see where the bottle may be easier for some to use than a pitcher and it can be carried in a bug out or 72-hour bag. For long-term emergencies, a water filter that has a reservoir bag that can be hung up and filled as needed is something to consider. Hand pumped filters are cumbersome and frustrating for even those that have no disabilities at all.
BDS Posts About Water
We have a lot of other info about your water supply at this start page.
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
This is tricky in some ways but from what I can gather I think ideally you would have a 1-2 week pill dispenser filled with what is required and then make sure to refill it when you reach only 2 days layed out. This ensures a buffer time and that you have the medicine you need. Keeping it in the place where the most time is spent is advisable. You may even have a second dispenser in the bathroom. Of course, medications expire so you will need to make sure to rotate occasionally if you have a second spot to stash things.
There are dispensers that address those that have AM/PM medications too so things can stay well organized.
Type A List Of Contact Numbers in Large Print and Laminate Several Copies!
Place a copy near the door where rescue workers can find it. Also, put a copy of the fridge. I would glue it if it was me because then it is harder for someone to move or maybe put a copy in a frame or something by the door. If someone’s memory is slipping or showing signs of dementia you need to plan for the fact that things might be moved around haphazardly at times.
Keep food within reach of areas where a lot of time is spent.
Some rations that can be consumed with no prep are second to water in importance during a situation. Those with some storage on their wheelchair could stash some supplies in there.
Bathroom needs if trapped
There are portable toilets that can be placed by the bed. If you don’t want to look at a toilet all the time then you can hide it with a blanket or other cover. Men can get away with urinal bottles up to a point. They also make them with adaptors for women. This is better than nothing.
AWOKEN Unisex Potty Urinal
Back up power and tanks for medical equipment
I am not familiar with medical equipment that takes power or tanks of oxygen but it makes sense to have back up. Some people have small generators for long-term outages. Evaluate your needs or that of the person you are carrying for and come up with a plan that is reasonable for your situation.
BDS Posts On Back Up Power
Check out our power supply start page for a lot of other links to helpful posts.
Have a bug out bag packed in case of evacuation.
A bag that has at least 72 hours worth of supplies and preferably a week is recommended. The contents of the bag are of course going to vary based on the disability you are dealing with. If you are a caregiver, double check the bag to make sure it is up to date. Prescriptions can change for some people more often than others and they also expire so going over this aspect every 6 months or a year at minimum is best.
Choose a bag that makes sense based on abilities and consider transportation options.
There are so many types of bags out there that can be utilized. You don’t have to use a standard backpack. Messenger bags, fanny packs of sufficient size, etc, could be strapped to a wheelchair or walker. Strapping it on to a person or medical equipment also keeps it from falling. If you have trouble getting up or bending, securing your bag can help avoid some of that type of activity.
If you are elderly or disabled you may also want to have someone take a look through your bag to make sure you have not overlooked anything. Even those that have put together a lot of bags over the years can easily forget something. This is simply a good idea for anyone to do for their bug out bag regardless of age and ability. Some people have a tendency to overpack some things and not pack enough of real essentials. I always had a hard time not packing too heavy for trips of 2-7 days on the trail.
Check out these posts for some tips on packing different types of bags.
I did a post on Alternative Bug Out Transportation a while back. There are a lot of options in that post and while I did not write it specifically for disabled preppers and caregivers, it is worth looking at so you can get started figuring what transportation would work for unique needs. There are a lot of people out there that have no car.
Having a younger person that is disabled or has developmental conditions has its own challenges. There are a lot of people with Downs Syndrome that lead very rich and fulfilling lives. Sometimes they need some extra help in areas. As children, they are going to need more help than other children. They may be perfectly capable of carrying their own bag but have a tendency to wander off. I am just throwing scenarios out there but you see where I am going with this. You need to plan for special needs children very carefully.
Kids that have mobility issues or prosthetic limbs can do amazing things but it varies by the child. Generally speaking, very young kids are going to make getting from point A to point B, take longer regardless of their abilities. Keep in mind that during an SHTF scenario some people are not going to be near as nice and understanding and that could have an effect on a disabled child. You are going to have to be more on guard for them and against those that may take advantage of them in any way. There are people out there that wouldn’t think twice about taking their supplies.
I have never had to take care of a disabled child myself. If you have or are currently then please share with us what you have done to consider their needs with prepping! I am hoping that those reading this post will tell their stories so everyone can learn.
Preparing For More Dire Circumstances and Leaving Someone Behind
I try to read as many comments as possible that readers make on posts. Between this and other articles on the myriad of prepping websites, I have read many times that some that are older or disabled that they intend on staying behind and not dragging anyone down with them. That sounds harsh but I definitely get the impression that there are plenty that feel that way.
It pains me to put a voice to the fact that there are still others that really could not make it for long during an extended emergency or SHTF situation. Those that have loved ones that require very special care grapple with this reality in their mind. There is only so much one can do to prepare. The best I can say is to prepare as much as possible but realize that there is only so much you can do or anticipate.
If you are the person that has said that you will be left and do the best you can, you might have a hard time getting your loved ones to understand your point of view. One reader told me that he had been clear about what his plan was. That he had supplies to stick it out awhile but the kids and grandkids were not to force him to go.
Regardless of how clear you are, it is probably going to be a lot harder than you think to get those that care about you to actually follow your wishes. There is no one size fits all solution to that as far as I can tell. If you have addressed this type of thing with your family and would like to share how you approached it, please let us know in the comments.
What tips do you have for prepping with a disability? What have you done to address the emotional side of dealing with the limitations you face or that you help a loved one with?