Disaster Preparedness Can Minimize Emotional Devastation: Caring for the Ages Magazine
This month’s Caring for the Ages magazine features an article by Joanne Kaldy on reducing the emotional distress of resident through disaster preparedness. Here’s my contribution:
During a disaster, staff might be surprised at how calm many residents actually are. “A lot of residents aren’t as upset as we think. We need to be careful not to think that everyone is distressed,” said Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD, a psychologist who consults in long-term care facilities in the New York City area. For some residents, a hurricane or a snowstorm isn’t as significant as a personal disaster such as a roommate’s death, Dr. Barbera said.
Other residents may not display their significant concern. “People might be in their rooms quietly freaking out,” Dr. Barbera said. Some cultures think it is inappropriate to express feelings, and men may feel that they should act strong and not show their emotions. “Count on aides who know the residents better than anyone,” she advised. “Have regular in-service programs about signs of trauma, and make sure [staff] know who to report their concerns to.”
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