Mature adults and people with disabilities are often more vulnerable when disaster strikes, and this vulnerability translates into a higher rate of injury and trauma and greater loss of life for this population in the wake of a disaster.
According to the Center for Disease Control, half of the victims from Superstorm Sandy were older adults, and a staggering 70% of the people who died from Hurricane Katrina were older adults.
- Hearing and visual impairments, chronic health conditions, and mobility challenges place mature adults and people with disabilities at a greater risk for being impacted by a disaster.
- Social and economic limitations also hinder the response and adaptability of older or disabled individuals.
- This population finds it more difficult to adequately prepare for responding to a disaster and is slower to evacuate.
- Older adults and individuals with disabilities are also more isolated than the general population and might not be aware of evacuation orders.
- As the population over the age of 65 increases and more and more individuals require special assistance, transportation and relocation efforts will be increasingly difficult.
- Following a disaster, access to prescription medications, daily-living assistance, home-delivered meals, basic hygiene, mental health services, and healthcare for chronic conditions may be interrupted.
- For this vulnerable population, disasters are more likely to result in medical emergencies, and/or necessitate transitional housing, home modification, and mental health services and counseling.