Disaster Preparedness for Older Adults
Tips and Guidebooks to Help Plan
Older adults can often be an asset during a natural disaster. Their life experience provides them with wisdom and resilience to survive and recover from a crisis as well as provide reassurance and emotional support to others.
However, because of chronic illness and physical disabilities which are more prevalent in later life, some older adults may be particularly vulnerable during a disaster. Some may also have smaller support networks of family or friends nearby and may rely on others for day-to-day assistance.
Because of these factors, it's especially important for older adults to have a disaster plan in place well in advance of a natural disaster. In addition to disaster preparedness for older adults, special consideration needs to be taken for health issues and physical limitations.
- Add medications and medical devices to emergency supplies. In addition to food, water and basic supplies, older adults should include medications and other medical necessities such as hearing aids and oxygen in their emergency kits. A list of medications, doctors and pharmacies as well as copies of prescriptions should also be included.
- Appoint an individual to aid in evacuation if necessary. Many older adults live alone but, because of physical limitations or lack of transportation, may need help evacuating their homes quickly and safely.
- Make sure service animals have adequate supplies. If there is a service animal involved, make sure that food and supplies for the animal are included in the emergency supply kit.
- Create multiple copies of emergency information. The information should include contacts, medications, medical device information and doctors. Keep backup copies outside the home at a friend's or other family member's house.
Guidebooks Available on Disaster Planning
The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence provides two free guidebooks of special interest to people who may be helping to care for older relatives who might be in harm’s way when a natural disaster strikes. Both guidebooks are available to download online or to order by mail.
It Could Happen to Me: Family Conversations about Disaster Planning. This guidebook outlines the ABC’s of a thorough plan and includes checklists, worksheets and resources to make developing the plan as easy as possible for older adults and their families.
The Calm Before the Storm: Family Conversations about Disaster Planning, Caregiving, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. This guidebook was developed from research with family caregivers of individuals with dementia who live at home and addresses the unique needs that caregivers face in preparing for a natural disaster.
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Expertise on Aging
The Hartford Center for Mature Market ExcellenceSM provides practical information to help people make decisions about driving and housing as they age.