Tips for Keeping Adults, Children and the Elderly Calm during a Hurricane
NEW ORLEANS - After living through the destruction caused by Katrina, anxiety, due to feeling out of control, is a natural emotion we all feel during storm season. Ochsner physicians recommend being aware of your anxiety levels as the first step in getting a healthy perspective on the situation.
Dr. Alvin Rouchell, Chairman of Psychiatry at Ochsner, recommends the following tips for reducing "natural disaster stress":
- Don't feed the frenzy by thinking about "what if" scenarios or conversations.
- Don't listen to the radio or TV on a non-stop basis.
- Be prepared for disasters. Have a pre-determined plan and necessary supplies ready.
- Try to "let your anxiety go." Turn on soft music, watch a funny video or meditate.
"By managing your anxiety, you will, in turn, help your children to manage their own," explains Dr. Rouchell. Calm, supportive reactions from parents in anticipation of evacuations/crises, will go a long way to alleviate stress responses in children.
"It's also important to let children know you're prepared and have a plan. Children will feel relieved if they feel the adults in their lives have taken reasonable precautions to protect them from harm," says Rouchell. He goes on to say, "Children should not be over-exposed to media and while parents need information, 24/7 television can be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking, especially for children."
"Another group that may be especially anxious during hurricane season is the elderly," Rouchell explains, "So, it's important to make preparations for them in advance and provide verbal reassurance that you have a plan in place." Some things to consider when caring for an elderly person include:
- Accompany or arrange for companions.
- Give special attention to suitable relocation, ideally in familiar surroundings with friends and family.
- Medication regimens should be re-established immediately for emotional balance or chronic illnesses.
- Recognize medical concerns:
- Arthritis may prevent them from standing in line
- Medications can cause confusion or a greater susceptibility to problems such as dehydration
- Memory disorders can cause communication problems
- Extremes of heat or cold have marked effects upon the elderly