FEMA Alert for Elderly's Concerns

The losses following Mississippi's April storms and tornadoes or May's flooding may be magnified for the elderly, according to the agency.

Senior citizens in Mississippi may be hit particularly hard in the wake of storms and tornadoes in April and flooding in May, according to FEMA, which said some who previously lived on their own may have to depend on others for food and shelter, and those who were used to assisted living may have their normal routines disrupted or find themselves with new caregivers.

"As we move forward from these devastating disasters, we need to be sensitive to the needs of our seniors," said Danny George, director for the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Aging & Adult Services. "The most important thing we can do to help the elderly is to let them know they are not alone and connect them with available services to help through these difficult times."

According to FEMA, symptoms of stress unique to the elderly include these:

  • Reliving events in their lives when they were traumatized or suffered severe losses
  • Fear of losing their independence or lack of self-sufficiency
  • Worry about limited financial resources and time to rebuild
  • Fear of being put in an institution
  • Fear of a decline in health and limitations on mobility and ability to rebuild
  • Withdrawal and isolation from family and friends

It reminded those working with seniors after a disaster to provide consistent verbal reassurance, assist them in recovering their physical possessions, return them to familiar surroundings with friends and acquaintances as soon as possible, make sure they have needed medical and financial assistance, help them re-establish social networks, and monitor their nutritional and medication needs.

For information, contact the department by calling 1-800-948-3090 or visiting www.mdhs.state.ms.us. Or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585.

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