Law helps elderly with Alzheimer's during disasters

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Susan Warren works for Elder Day Stay in Tallahassee. She knows the importance of special care for those battling Alzheimer's and similar diseases.

"You have to meet them where their reality is and you never know what part of their life they're going to be interacting with you in on a daily basis," Warren said.

So, how do you take care of the elderly during natural disasters or states of emergency?

"There's so many resources out there and a lot of times you don't even know where to go to begin," Warren added.

The state came up with an answer this past legislative session. Currently, each Florida county has its own program and emergency plan for those with Alzheimer's and related diseases.

A new law requires the Florida Division of Emergency Management to develop one unified plan.

"Making it much easier for the public and that special needs community to be able to register themselves," said Julie Roberts with the division.

The law says the division has to develop and maintain a registry of persons with special needs. They must also create a special needs shelter registration program by January of next year and implement it by March.

"It may require assistance with transportation in an evacuation or they may need to go to a special needs shelter," Roberts said.

"If there's one clearinghouse for that, I think that's wonderful," Warren said.

The law also creates a program to provide grants and fellowships for research involving Alzheimer's disease.

The entire law is expected to be implemented by March of next year. At that time you can expect to see advertising on how to sign up.

Emergency officials say this is also a good reminder for all to be prepared since it is still hurricane season.


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