JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Thousands of people in Duval County are living with Alzheimer's disease, according to state data. Do you as a caregiver, know what to do in the event of a hurricane?
This week on the First Coast, a program unique to Florida is here to help. This help comes on wheels.
The Alzheimer's Association Brain Bus is in Jacksonville Thursday and in Nassau County Friday. The Brain Bus offers free support to anyone with questions about Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
When First Coast News was there, we spoke with a caregiver named Elisa Worden. She cares for both of her parents who have dementia and are in their 90s. She's also a single mother.
Worden says they haven't had to evacuate for a hurricane. First Coast News asked about her evacuation plan in case of one.
"I can't even begin to tell you what I would do," Worden said. "I would probably just sit in my driveway and just break down."
The program manager of the Brain Bus, Rob Harris, was there to help.
"You said, 'if I went to a hotel, I'd have to stay awake,'" Harris said to Worden. "They make these wonderful little things called door chimes or door alarms."
Harris suggested buying a door chime to put on the door of a hotel room.
"Start preparing now," Harris said. "Don't wait until the last minute."
Harris says to have an evacuation plan. His advice is to make a list of hotels, cancel reservations as needed and call ahead to a shelter to let them know your situation and bring plenty of activities for the person you're caring for to keep them occupied.
Harris says to bring copies of important documents and always take a picture of the person you care for that day. Worden says this is important because she learned this the hard way. She also has a 'grab bag' of supplies to take with her and her parents in case of an emergency.
Harris was in a shelter in Fort Myers last year during Hurricane Ian and says some caregivers there weren't as prepared as they could have been.
You don't need an appointment to stop by the Brain Bus. It will be at Dedicated Senior Medical Center at 3059 Edgewood Ave. West from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday. There is also a program abut the warning signs of Alzheimer's at 1 p.m.
On Friday, the Brain Bus will be at the Nassau County Council on Aging Senior Expo and Health Fair at the Atlantic Recreation Center at 2500 Atlantic Ave. in Fernandina Beach from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Call the Alzheimer's Association's 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.