Older adults are at a greater risk of death, hospitalizations, and the impacts of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, renal disease, lung disease, and diabetes than younger people (Glass, 2006).
Preparing older adults and their families is the foundation of a resilient community. Improved emergency preparedness aims to reduce harm while also enabling older adults to maintain their health.
Join us in today’s episode of This Is Getting Old—Part 5: Emergency Preparedness and Resilience. This series is related to the 10-part AARP/ Age-Friendly Social Innovation Challenge participated by George Washington University’s Center for Aging, Health and Humanities, our five regional age-friendly municipalities, and our multiple partners.
Watch the full episode to hear about some resources that may be helpful to you and your family.
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️Emergency Preparedness and Resilience In Concept
The concept of emergency preparedness and resilience generally means the ability of any community to respond to an emergency that impacts all residents. Anything like a natural disaster could range from a hurricane, a tornado, a blizzard, but anything that requires people to shelter in place or displaces them.
✔️ How Communities Should Handle Emergencies?
How communities handle emergencies can either be integrated-oriented or segregated-oriented. But if it’s an age-friendly city, it should be integrated-oriented to include all populations. Either way, during an emergency, any resident with mobility problems, chronic health conditions, or hearing, vision or cognitive impairment need to be prepared for emergencies by creating a plan, reviewing or practicing it regularly, and keeping an emergency supply kit.
✔️ Emergency Preparedness and Resilience – Scenario
Earl is 71-years young, a retired bread company manager who lives in Arlington, VA and moved 12 years ago from Houston, TX, after losing his wife in a hurricane flood. Earl lives alone but has good friends in Crystal City. He can still get around on his own, walking and taking the bus. Lately, it has been raining, and Earl’s home has flooded. His electricity is out, and he has no running water. Earl has been alive a long time and feels like he should know what to do, but help seems so far away.
✔️Emergency Preparedness and Resilience – Problem Statement
Earl needs to know what resources/supports are available to him locally because he needs to resolve the flooding in his home and possibly find temporary housing. Additionally, we need to connect him with a long term system of support to prevent/problem-solve these emergencies, either before they happen/as they happen.
✔️Emergency Preparedness and Resilience – Innovative Solution
A localized, community-specific emergency system/infrastructure should be developed that is flexible and composed of first responders, volunteers, liaisons, the aging network, the first community network, advisory council that includes older adults. This system could be used to:
- proactively identify those who are most vulnerable (pre-emergency)
- create an “emergency contact network” in the community to run through drill scenarios to prepare
- meet immediate needs of individuals during emergencies
- conduct follow up post-emergency to connect individuals to systems of support and wider community (beyond their immediate needs during a time of crisis)
- conduct follow up surveys to determine whether targeted individuals/beneficiaries received appropriate support and information
✔️Helpful Information – How To Prepare for an Emergency?
Here’s some information that may help you avoid problems during an emergency:
- gov lists essential items to have in a Disaster Supply Kit.
- Make sure you have a 3-day supply of medications, extra batteries for hearing aids, information about medical devices needed like a wheelchair, walker, or even an oxygen machine.
- The CDC has a document called the Complete Care Plan to guide you through essential documents to keep in waterproof bags, and you should take photos of each document as a backup.
You may also have another idea for a solution – or know of a program that would help older adults and their families facing similar challenges. Please add your comments below.
We’d love to hear from you!
If you have questions, comments, or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.
I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.
Find out more about her work HERE.