State officials encourage Illinois seniors to be prepared to handle disasters


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By Wayne Baker | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Aging want to make sure the elderly population is prepared for a disaster.

More than two million seniors live in Illinois and should know what to do when a disaster happens, IEMA spokesman Rebecca Clark said.

“Ready Illinois serves as a one-stop shop for all Illinois residents to educate themselves on the hazards that exist in Illinois and how to properly prepare their family, business, community or organization for each hazard,” she explained, adding that seniors and their families can visit the website for information.

“Regardless of your age or where you live, hazard mitigation and preparedness are the key tools to reduce or eliminate losses to life or property,” Clark said. “Start with the basics, educate yourself about the hazards in your area. Make a plan, build a kit and create a support network.”

Director for the Illinois Department on Aging Paula Basta agreed with Clark’s assessment.

“When we talk about National Preparedness Month, we talk about disasters in a more general sense,” Basta said. “The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously a national public health crisis that caught many off guard. So with National Preparedness Month, we are highlighting how important it is for older Illinoisans and their caregivers to set aside time to think about a plan, and to be prepared for future potential emergencies.”

The four tips that can help older Illinoisans prepare for a disaster or emergency discussed in detail by Basta revolve around one, creating a support network.

”This is a great time to get to know your neighbors. Identify family, friends and others who can assist you during an emergency. Studies show 46% of individuals will rely on their neighbors immediately following a disaster or emergency,” Basta said. “Also, take a moment to identify the various services available in your area. In addition to the 211 system in many communities, IDoA can connect older adults and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. Learn more by using the department’s Provider Profile search tool.“

Financial preparedness also is important, since a disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. If you depend on Social Security or other regular benefits, switching to electronic payments is a simple, important way to protect yourself financially before a disaster, Basta said.

“Stores and pharmacies may be closed immediately following a disaster, so it is important to keep critical supplies, including food and medication, in an emergency supply kit,” she said. “Don’t wait until the last minute to have your medications refilled. Talk to your pharmacist and healthcare insurer to see if your insurance plan offers a more affordable mail-order option. Some insurers are also allowing early refills and extending the term of a prescription from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply.”

Additionally, if you rely on others to help fill your weekly medication boxes or remind you to take your medications, consider the Automated Medication Dispenser Program (AMD). AMD is a service provided under IDoA’s Community Care Program.

“Emergency food supplies can be built over time, as to not be a cost burden to seniors. Consider picking up one extra can of food each time you visit the grocery store. Or find senior food resources online at,” Basta said.


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