Disasters, natural and man-made, may occur at any time. Natural disasters resulting from hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, wildfires, flooding and heat take a particularly devastating toll on older Americans.
Research has found that in natural disasters more than 50% of fatalities are older adults.
Older adults, who are more sensitive to heat and cold, are particularly at risk when the electricity fails. When ordered to evacuate, older adults respond differently than younger people. They are at increased risk when a disaster requires moving quickly and they are disadvantaged in recovery because they are often physically unable to handle their own rebuilding.
Weakened immune systems put older adults at an increased risk for the bacterial and viral infections that may accompany a disaster, including food poisoning, water-borne illness and respiratory pathogens, to name a few. Older adults are at especially high risk when evacuated to shelters where they are forced into close quarters with people of all ages and various contagious conditions.
For these reasons, among many others, disasters are an important consideration for older adults and the persons who care for them.