Department of Family Services – Older Adults

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
703-324-7948 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 708
Fairfax, VA 22035
Trina Mayhan-Webb

Health Preparedness for Stroke Survivors and Caregivers

Article by the Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Fairfax County Health Department

(Posted 2023 May)

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Photo of a clipboard with a contact list on it, a pen, and a laptop.During Stroke Awareness Month, the Fairfax County Health Department would like to provide stroke survivors and their caregivers with customized tips for personal and family preparedness.

As a stroke survivor or caregiver to one, it is vital to stay prepared in the event of an emergency. Having a plan and practicing the plan with all household members can quicken your response to unexpected events such as natural disasters or disease outbreaks. Personal preparedness also relieves the stress of coming up with a plan in the spur of the moment. 

For general preparedness information go to

Fairfax County residents can also access the Community Emergency Response Guide -

Consider three tips for health preparedness:

1. Invest in accessible warning systems.

  • Sign up for Wireless Emergency Alerts to know about disasters and hazards that could affect your area. Fairfax Alerts helps you be in the know. Register at
  • For stroke survivors with speech and mobility challenges, invest in specific warning systems such as bed shakers/pillow shakers, strobe lights, or high-pitched alarms. 

2. Plan for non-verbal communication options.

  • Create an emergency contact information list to be kept in your emergency kit, purse, or wallet. 
  • Ensure access to a speech assistive device for stroke survivors that is fully charged and ready to use. A small chalkboard or whiteboard can also be used if the survivor still has the ability to write words or short sentences. 
  • Write down common communications phrases to show to an emergency responder.
  • Purchase a health communications card and store it in a waterproof, clear bag.

3. Don’t forget your medication when building an emergency kit.

  • Always keep copies of your current medication prescriptions with you. 
  • Store a 7-day emergency supply of prescription medication. Speak with both your healthcare provider and health insurance provider about your plan for emergencies and the need to stockpile medications. 

Finally, surviving a stroke makes it likely that you will have another. In fact, recurrent strokes make up almost 25% of the nearly 800,000 strokes that occur annually in the United States. Seek immediate assistance if you or your family member is in distress. Learn the signs and symptoms of stroke.

This article is part of the Golden Gazette monthly newsletter which covers a variety of topics and community news concerning older adults and caregivers in Fairfax County. Are you new to the Golden Gazette? Don’t miss out on future newsletters! Subscribe to get the electronic or free printed version mailed to you. Have a suggestion for a topic? Share it in an email or call 703-324-GOLD (4653).

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