CDC's Disaster Planning Goal: Protect Vulnerable Older Adults   [open pdf - 174KB]

"Disasters of all kinds affect older adults disproportionately, especially those with chronic diseases, disabilities or conditions that require extra assistance to leave an unsafe area and recover from an event. For this reason, emergency managers need to recognize that the frail elderly are a special-needs population and develop strategies to meet their needs. The term 'frail elderly' refers to older adults who have serious, chronic health problems that could make them more vulnerable during disasters [Fernandez, 2002]. Disasters come in many forms, including severe weather-related events, earthquakes, large-scale attacks on civilian populations, technological catastrophes, and influenza pandemics. Although the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks focused some attention on vulnerable populations and evacuations of people with disabilities, it was the destruction of Gulf Coast areas by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 that marked a major shift in the way disaster preparedness planners approach their job. '9/11 got the attention of the disability community, caregivers, and service providers, but it really didn't penetrate the emergency response community that much. That came with Katrina,' explained Vincent Campbell, PhD, Associate Director for Science in the Division of Human Development and Disability in CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. 'Older adults are definitely a population with needs that must be addressed,' he added."

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