Seniors particularly vulnerable in Sandy's aftermath

October 31, 2012, The Gerontological Society of America

Older adults left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy will likely suffer disproportionately in the days ahead, based on data from other recent natural disasters.

For example, three quarters of those who perished in were over the age of 60, according to the spring 2006 edition of Public Policy & Aging Report from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Similarly, a recent issue of the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences reported that the May 2008 earthquake in Wenchuan, China, was associated with a twofold increase in the one-year mortality among a group of residents in their 90s that lived nearby.

"Right now, most people who are responding to the hurricane are not trained in the needs of older adults," said Lisa M. Brown, PhD, a co-convener of GSA's Disasters and Older Adults Interest Group and an associate professor at the University of South Florida. "Likewise, very few geriatricians and gerontologists are trained in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery."

The interest group will next meet during GSA's upcoming Annual Scientific Meeting, which will take place from November 14 to 18 in San Diego. Brown leads the group with fellow GSA member and co-convener Maggie Gibson, PhD, of St. Joseph's Health Care London in Ontario, Canada.

The two also will chair a symposium, "Older Adults and Disasters: Are Gerontologists Paying Attention?" in San Diego. During this session, expert presenters will discuss the social, mental, and physical health concerns of older adults at all stages of a disaster and explain the critical role of gerontologists in shaping public health preparedness and responsiveness to disasters. They will also identify why older adults remain unusually vulnerable, relative to children and younger adults, during catastrophic events.

"We don't have continuity in the disaster infrastructure for . Our efforts tend to be more reactive post-disaster than proactive pre-disaster," Brown said. "More research in this area will result in targeted policies and refined programs that would enhance existing systems of care."

There also is a growing field of literature that outlines necessary steps for elder disaster preparedness in the face of an emergency. The & Aging Report demonstrated that multi-tiered evacuation plans, pre-existing social networks, and "go-kits" can be used to assist elders at critical moments. These kits may include detailed contact information for family members; contact information for relevant health care providers; high-nutrient foods; and a week's supply of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, including a list of medications, the required dosage, and times of administration.

Explore further: Helping the aged during natural disasters

Related Stories

Helping the aged during natural disasters

June 3, 2011
When earthquake, tsunami, tornado or flood strike, among the most vulnerable group are the elderly. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, researchers in New Zealand suggest that emergency response ...

New guide helps providers make effective connection with senior patients

October 15, 2012
"Communicating With Older Adults: An Evidence-Based Review of What Really Works," the latest report from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), provides 40 pages of recommended guidelines for health care providers interacting ...

New GSA resources lay foundation for relieving seniors' pain

January 31, 2012
The pain suffered by older adults is the shared focus of the two newest entries in The Gerontological Society of America's (GSA) From Publication to Practice series. Together they address both pain management and new labeling ...

Effective pain management crucial to older adults' well-being

April 11, 2011
Improved management of chronic pain can significantly reduce disability in older adults, according to the latest issue of the WHAT'S HOT newsletter from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

New report highlights LGBT older adults' needs, identifies policy opportunities

November 16, 2011
The National Academy on an Aging Society and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) today released the first-ever issue of the acclaimed Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ...

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.